Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Loxosceles reclusa

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loxosceles reclusa

Etymology

Family

Traditional name

English: Brown recluse

Used parts

Classification

Animalia; Arachnida; Araneae - Spiders; Theridiidae

Keywords

Original proving

Louis Klein R.S. Hom. with Heather Knox done in the Homeopathic Master Clinician Course, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Class, 1997-8

Description of the substance

Gertsch and Mulaik first described the brown recluse spider in 1940.
Smaller in size than the black widow spider, its average measurements are 7-12mm in length and 4-6mm in diameter. It has an oval body with four long, thin legs on each side of the cephalothorax. The body color can vary from a light fawn to a dark chocolate or mahogany brown. The cephalothorax and abdomen of adults are usually light brown or fawn and the legs are much darker brown. There is much variation in coloration due to genetic variation and length of time since the last molt. Both body and legs are covered in short hairs which are not visible to the naked eye. The darker band, which is shaped like a violin and extends from the eyes back to the end of the cephalothorax, is the source of this insect’s other common names, the fiddle-back spider and the violin spider. Females are slightly larger than males. Males are distinguished from females by the bulbous appearance of the pedipalps, which function as sperm transfer organs, and the first pair of legs, which are longer than in the female. Both sexes are venomous.
Range: Loxosceles reclusa is a major resident in the south central United States, in an area running east from Texas to South Carolina, and south from Indiana to Alabama. It is reported to be most common in Missouri, Arkansas, eastern Kansas, and Tennessee. Warm dry climates are the natural limits of this spiders range, but since they are long-lived (maximum life span of adults ranges from two to four overwinters) and very tolerant of environmental changes, the brown recluse is expanding its range by transport in man’s belongs (e.g., shipping crates) and by existing indoors in areas where the natural climate is not suitable.
Habitat: One study in Texas revealed the typical habitats of Loxosceles reclusa. This spider occupies almost any dry  niche, indoors or outdoors, that can provide seclusion during daylight hours. Such locations include “inside walls of barns, around feed sacks, between and under hay bales, closets of dormitory rooms, garages and closets of homes, under miscellaneous rubbish in old barns and sheds, outdoors under rocks and in stacks of wood or posts, in decaying logs, and under corrugated metal.” Large numbers of brown recluse spiders have been found during winter months in Arkansas. They take shelter between rocks that are protected by overhanging cliffs. The web of the brown recluse is spun for shelter, not for trapping food. It is irregular in shape and consists of a densely woven central retreat with loose silk threads surrounding it in various directions.
Hunting and prey: The brown recluse spider forages, moving about freely at night in search of its prey, primarily insects. Under natural conditions L. reclusa feeds on different species of isopods, spiders, mites, beetles, millipedes, earwigs, crickets, flies, wasps, ants, moths, firebrats and cockroaches. It belongs to the Family Loxoscelidae (most closely related to the Scytodidae) and the Super Family, Plecteuroides. The superfamily is that of the ‘primitive hunters.’ These spiders are active ground vagrants, stalking the terrain as they hunt. Most retire to some sort of base during the day, such as a silken tube or a padded corner. Very few of the primitive hunters use silk with much proficiency and they do not rely upon it as a means of capturing their prey. All of them are shortsighted, and since they are active at night, eyesight plays only a small role in the success of their hunting. Unlike most spiders, they are six-eyed (instead of the usual eight); there are three pairs of eyes arranged in a semi-circle on the anterior portion of the cephalothorax.
Mating: The brown recluse mates between May and September, depending on seasonal temperatures. Mating behavior includes random contact and pursuit, followed by caress, embrace and copulation. The male is rarely killed by the female, although it has been observed in one instance when the male was very aggressive and the female nonreceptive. Females who mate late in the season have proven able to survive the winter and produce viable eggs the following spring; therefore females transported out of their normal range can produce broods without males.
Although spiderlings can successfully emerge from the egg sacs on their own, the female has been frequently observed helping spiderlings escape the egg sac by pulling the cover webbing back.
Behavior: The brown recluse is sedentary, some may call it shy, and it avoids light. These habits all support naming this brown spider the recluse. It is thought to bite only in self-defense. Man is an unwanted intruder into this spider’s habitat, but contact can occur when a foraging spider takes cover in bed clothes; the bed’s occupant’s subsequent limb movements or pressure of body weight can then cause the spider to inflict a bite.

The Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) is generally regarded as one of the more dangerous creatures in North America. Six deaths were attributed to it between 1960 and 1969, two more than the infamous Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans). However, these numbers pale in consideration with the 112 people who lost their lives during the same period of time to bee, wasp, and ant stings. In fact, the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) is positively benign when compared to the deadly automobile. 472,312 people died in the same ten year period due to car accidents (Rayor, 1995). To put it another way, it is more than 78,000 as likely that you will perish in a car wreck as die from the nip of this spider! Yet the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) is almost universally feared, while the automobile is usually admired, or at least appreciated.

What accounts for the low regard in which we hold this invertebrate? It is not a particularly imposing creature. The Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) is a small brownish spider, typically measuring approximately two to five centimeters (approximately 4/5" to 2") in length (including the legs). It is typically distinguished by the "violin-shaped marking" on the cephalothorax (Borowitz, 1995). The neck of the "violin" points towards the abdomen of the spider and is easily visible on the spider below:
 

This dark shape has given rise to other common names including "fiddle back" and "violin spider". Young spiderlings look like the adults, but tend to be smaller. The female lays her egg sacs between May and August, and the young usually hatch after 24 to 36 days in an egg sac containing forty or so of their brethren. They do not typically reach maturity until ten to twelve months have passed. The adults may live up to 2 years. These nocturnal spiders tend to be most active between the months of April and October. They may be active in temperatures ranging from 45° to 110° F. (Lyon)

This small creature can ranges from Florida to Texas, and north to Iowa and Indiana. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). In these areas, it is most frequently found residing in wood piles and piles of rocks (Walker and Hogan, 1996). However, it is not an infrequent visitor to houses, where it resides in "closets, attics, and garages" or other dark, seldom-used rooms.(Walker and Hogan, 1996). In addition, they have been known to "hitchhike" to other regions of the country, and may turn up virtually anywhere. (Lyon).

Consequently, virtually anyone is at a slight risk of encountering one these spiders. Though these arachnids tend to be rather timid, they do occasionally bite people. The majority of the bites occur when the victim is putting on an article of clothing or rolls over the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) while sleeping. (Potter, 1995) The risk of mortality is fairly low, but many victims suffer from a wound that resembles an "ulcer" which forms around the bite.
 
Though you are far more likely to die in a car wreck than by the bite of a Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa), it is still worth being alert to the possibility. If bitten, it is recommended that the victim collect the arachnid for positive identification and get immediate medical attention. Antiseptics should be applied to reduce the risk of infection, and ice packs may be put on the bite to reduce the swelling.(Walker and Hogan 1995). Essentially, it is just necessary to use common sense. If you are bitten by a spider, it is worth checking for a dark "fiddle" mark. If the spider that nipped you lacks this mark (which is very, very likely), than you have nothing to worry about! In fact, you are more likely to die from the bite of a tick (Dermacentor variabilis) than by the bite of this small arachnid. Eight deaths were attributed to it during the same ten year period (Rayor, 1995).

J Med Entomol. 2002 Nov;39(6):948-51. Related Articles, Links  
An infestation of 2,055 brown recluse spiders (Araneae: Sicariidae) and no envenomations in a Kansas home: implications for bite diagnoses in nonendemic areas.
Vetter RS, Barger DK.
Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.

During a 6-mo period, 2,055 brown recluse spiders, Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik, were collected in a 19th-century-built, currently occupied home in Lenexa, KS. We conservatively estimate that at least 400 of these spiders were large enough to cause envenomation. Additional collections from more typically infested homes in Missouri and Oklahoma in 2001 yielded 45 and 30 brown recluse spiders, respectively. Despite these infestations, no envenomations of the inhabitants of these three homes occurred. Considering the levels of infestations with no bites in the homes presented here, nonendemic areas in the United States, which typically lack recluse spider populations and have had zero to few verified specimens of the spider, do not have sufficient numbers of brown recluse spiders to make envenomation a likely scenario. Despite this, physicians from nonendemic recluse areas often diagnose brown recluse bites which, therefore, are unlikely to be correct.