Bug Blog

Arizona Has Its Very Own Indigenous Brown Recluse Species, And They Can Paralyze You!

Brown recluse bites occur frequently within the United States, and these bites are notorious for sometimes causing tissue necrosis at the sight of the wound. Although the majority of brown recluse bites occur within the southeast and midwest regions of the US, there exists 11 brown recluse spiders that are native to the US, and not all of these species are limited to one geographic area of the country. In addition to the 11 native brown recluse species, an additional two non-native species have been introduced into the country, but luckily, their habitat distribution is limited to a small area. Little do many Arizona residents realize, but at least one of these 11 brown recluse species is indigenous to the state. This species is aptly known as Loxosceles arizonica, and its bite is just as dangerous as its more well known counterpart in the midwest and southeast.

Most documented brown recluse bites are inflicted by the L. reclusa species, but L. arizonica also claims numerous bite victims each year. For example, back in 1997, a 13 year old Arizona girl sustained a bite from this species which resulted in shock, and another researcher documented a case of L. arizonica envenomation that resulted in permanent paralysis in his lower extremities. In addition to L. arizonica, another brown recluse species, the L. deserta, is also native to Arizona.

The 13 year old victim of the L. arizonica bite developed the typical lesion and red rash that often forms at the bite wound in response to L. reclusa bites, only this patient fell victim to shock as well. Happily, the girl recovered, sadly, the same cannot be said about another L. arizonica victim who developed bowel and bladder incontinence following his bite. In addition to developing incontinence, the patient’s spinal cord become inflamed, and worst of all, his lower extremities became paralyzed. Even after more than seven weeks in the hospital, this man did not regain his ability to walk after sustaining the bite on his right buttock.

Have you ever heard of anyone sustaining a brown recluse bite in Arizona? Do you think that L. arizonica is often mistaken for other spider species that are not brown recluses?