Tag Archives: spiders

Brown Recluse or Not Brown Recluse! Busting the Bite Myth.

Here in California, the brown recluse spider has been elevated to a major urbanspider-face legend alongside UFOs, Bigfoot, the Jackalope and Elvis.

There is a great “fear” of brown recluse spiders in California, mostly because of misguided and sensationalized media hype. So say spider experts from the entomology department at the University of California, Riverside.

brown-recluse-and-pennyThe common name “brown recluse spider refers to one species of spider, Loxosceles reclusa, which lives in the central Midwest: Nebraska recluse-spider-map-of-u-s-from-ucrsouth to Texas and eastward to southernmost Ohio and north-central Georgia. It gets its name from its color and its shy, reclusive, nocturnal nature.

This species of violin spider is not native to California and only a handful of these spiders (less than 10) have ever been collected here.  Of those that were, there was some relationship between the spider and a recent move or shipment of goods from the Midwest.

There are other Loxosceles spiders in California, the most common desert_recluse_-_loxosceles_desertabeing Loxosceles deserta, found in sparsely- populated areas of the eastern California desert. There are no established populations of native Californian violin spiders in urban non-desert locations. In southern California, a South American violin spiderLoxosceles laeta, chilean-reclusealso known as a Chilean recluse, which is supposedly more venomous than the brown recluse, inhabits a small area of Sierra Madre, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park. According to researchers, there has not been one verified bite incident involving L. laeta in California because they mostly live in basements and steam tunnels and they rarely, hang out in plain sight, in people’s homes.

Busting the Bite Myth!

Rick Vetter, a retired University of California, Riverside entomologist, along with lead author Dr. W. Van Stoecker and Dr. Jonathan Dyer, both dermatologists in Missouri who specialize in treating brown recluse bites, have co-authored a recently-published paper in JAMA Dermatology that describes skin conditions that are often misdiagnosed as bites from the much maligned, brown recluse. Their paper introduces a mnemonic device NOT RECLUSE that describes the most common skin conditions that are misdiagnosed as a brown recluse bite.

Not Recluse: Red, elevated and persistent or chronic wounds.

Recluse bites are whitish blue or purple (not red), flat (not elevated) and don’t last more than three months.

Open wound from Brown recluse bite

 

Brown Recluse Bite -minor reaction

So, if a patient has a wound that is elevated or red or persists more than 3 months, something other than a brown recluse bite should be considered.

A red lesion would indicate a bite or sting by another insect/spider or might be a bacterial infection caused by :

MRSA-Staph Infection

 

Anthrax Infection

streptococcus or anthrax or the result of both.

 

According to Dr. Vetter, brown recluse spiders are no longer than a half-inch in body length and have a dark brown violin shape on their body. They are venomous, but about 90 percent of bites self-heal, ab

Healed Brown Recluse Bite

out 10 percent result in a rotting flesh lesion, and less than 1 percent cause a systemic reaction that can be fatal.

There is no denying that necrotic wounds are occurring in California but as long as people keep the myth of the brown recluse, alive, the real causes of these wounds will continue to be misdiagnosed and effective treacarter-recluse-wife-1080x1080-002tment delayed.

 

Here’s a little Recluse Humor!  Enjoy!

Find more chuckles at CorkysNoon Cartoon.com

 

A warm beverage, A romantic fire and BUGS !

Even sun worshiping, Southern Californians like the aroma,  romantic ambiance and the warmth that a fire in a fireplace brings to their homes during cool, damp, fall and winter evenings.  Although some enjoy the atmosphere of an electric fireplace, nothing beats  a real wood fire.

Be aware! Anytime you bring materials from the great outdoors into your home, you may be importing hitchhikers. Firewood, pine cones, seedpods and other natural items often host insects and arthropods. The majority, of these pests don’t pose a real threat to your home, furnishings or family, but it’s nice to avoid the unexpected fright and frustration tha their presence can elicit.

Firewood inswood-pileects usually belong to one of two groups:

  • those that actively feed on wood and
  • those only seeking shelter.

Here are some creatures that you might run into and some tips for keeping them  out of your home.

Beetles are the most common group of insects found within firewood. Wood borers often attack dead or dying trees and are in the woodeucalyptus_longhorned_borer_01 when it is cut. Often, the first indication of beetle activity is the presences of a powdery dust or frass coming from holes on the wood surface. Adult beetles may also be seen on or around the firewood.  Longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae), Flathead and metallic wood borers (Buprestidae), Bark and ambrosia beetles (Curculionidae), Powderpost beetles (Bostrichidae) are a few you might run into.

Termites: Termites accidently brought indoors with firewood will not infest structural wood.

Termites

Their presence in firewood, piled close to the home, may warrent an inspection for termites.

Ants: Some species of ants- including carpenter ants can be found in wood. There is little chance they will nest in the home, but if wood is brought indoors and warmed up,

carpenter_ant_nest_creemorethe ants can become active and create a nuisance anytime of the year.

 

Wood Wasps: Species of wood wasps, horntails and other wasp-like insects breed in dead wood.As with most of the insects mentioned here, they cannot re-infest wood or cause damage to a structure.

wood-wasp.

Spiders, earwigs, wood roaches, sowbugs, crickets and small flies may hide and/or overwinter in firewood. Oh, and don’t forget rats and snakes find woodpiles quite homey too.

Earwig and Black Widow
Earwig and Black Widow
Wood roaches and sowbugs
Wood roaches and sowbugs

 

crickets
House Crickets

Insect invasions of homes from firewood can be reduced by following these simple rules:

  • Avoid stacking the wood directly on the ground. This will keep the wood from getting too wet and reduce the chances for infestation by termites and ants.
  • Don’t stack firewood in or against the house or other buildings for long periods of time. Termite or carpenter ant problems can develop and cause more serious problems.
  • Use the oldest wood first, for it is most likely to be infested. Avoid the tendency to stack new wood on top of old wood.
  • Cover the wood during the summer and fall. This will keep it drier and exclude some creatures seeking overwintering sites.
  • Shake, jar, or knock logs together sharply to dislodge insects and brush off any obvious structures such as webbing or cocoons before bringing it inside.
  • Bring in small amounts of firewood that can be used up in a day or so and keep it stacked in a cool area (e.g., garage or porch) until it is burned. When wood warms up, the creatures in or on it will become active.
  • Do not treat firewood with insecticides. It is unnecessary and potentially dangerous due to chemical toxins released while burning.  Pesticide treated firewood is a “Health Hazard”!

Always obtain your firewood locally. Firewood from other areas could harbor, non-native, invasive pests, and has the potential to create a destructive infestation where you live or camp. Most experts recommend that no firewood be moved more than 50 miles from its origin. If you are planning a camping trip, away from home, don’t bring your own firewood with you. Buy wood from a source near the camping area. buy-it-where-you-burn-it-banner