The brown recluse spider is very small, but very dangerous – its poison is so strong that without timely medical assistance it can lead to death, while the pain begins to be felt far from immediately, and it can bite a sleeping person. This dangerous creature often lives in abandoned buildings and even residential buildings.
Origin of the species and description
The appearance of the first arachnids dates back to the Devonian period – however, these were not at all the same species that inhabit our planet now. Arachnids evolve quite quickly, as a result, old species die out, but not just like that, but changing and giving rise to new ones.
The oldest arachnids became the first sea creatures to land on land, settled on it, and when other living creatures followed them, they began to lead a predatory lifestyle. The main difference from other living beings was their web, produced by special glands derived from one of the pairs of legs.
It is by the use of the web that it is determined when the ancestors of the spider species occurred: in the simplest, it is used only to create cocoons, the more developed ones find other uses for it, for example, they set up nets or make nests. The brown recluse spider is one of those that use the web only for the cocoon.
Video: Brown recluse spider
But this does not mean that the species itself is ancient – like all other types of arachnids, it appeared not so long ago, within a few tens of millions of years ago, it just changed relatively little in comparison with its ancient ancestors. In general, the evolution of spiders is relatively little studied and further research is needed.
Scientists have not yet established a reliable chain along which most of them developed, including hermit spiders. It is only clear that the way of life of the brown hermit spider is similar to that of its distant ancestors – it is even possible that such a strong poison was necessary for him against some already extinct creatures, and therefore has survived to this day. This species was described in 1940 by V. Gerch and S. Mulaik. Received the scientific name Loxosceles reclusa, assigned to the family Sicariidae.
Appearance and features
The dimensions of this spider are quite small: with legs up to 20 mm, and without them, it is 5-7 mm at all. Usually the female is larger, but the difference is small. The body of the spider is covered with hairs, thick and short, in appearance they can be mistaken for fur.
It also differs from most other spiders in that it has only 6 eyes, not 8. On this basis, it can be learn: it is clearly visible that in the middle the brown recluse has only one pair of eyes, and two more on the sides of it. Otherwise, it differs little from some other spiders, which is why they are often confused.
However, there is another important feature: on his cephalothorax, you can see a pattern resembling a violin. However, this drawing still needs to be considered, often this requires a magnifying glass. Although these spiders are called brown, in reality not all of them are so, some are gray or dark yellow.
Their web does not have a clear and orderly pattern, and seems to be woven completely randomly – in fact, it is so. The web is sticky to the touch. The paws are thin and long. An alarmed hermit spider draws in the front pair, leans on the back and raises the middle one up. So he warns that he is ready to defend himself, this pose is designed to scare off the aggressor.
An interesting fact: It used to be that giant spiders lived on Earth in ancient times, but relatively recently it turned out that during the reconstruction fossils, a mistake was made, and in fact they are not at all so large. So the largest spider that lives on our planet to this day is the goliath tarantula, its length is 28 centimeters.
Where does the brown recluse spider live?
The main habitat is the southeastern United States from Illinois and Nebraska to Texas and Virginia. In California, it can be found occasionally and only indoors. It is quite common in the states located within the specified range.
In some places, even too often – sometimes there are real invasions of these spiders. They can also be found outside the designated area, but much less often, only if they are accidentally imported. It is able to live in various natural conditions, so that even if it ends up in very distant lands during transportation, for example, in Europe, it successfully survives.
There is evidence that he took root in Africa and South America. In addition, in recent years it has been noticed quite often in Australia, and it is possible that it has gained a foothold on this continent as well. So far, the habitat of these spiders outside of North America has not been reliably established, information about them is fragmentary.
As a habitat, it prefers a room, it is best if it is warm and dry. At the same time, he was called a hermit for a reason, but because he does not like company and prefers to settle in abandoned premises, or simply uninhabited, such as summer houses, basements or attics.
It will not become an obstacle even if the room is unheated : very moderate winter colds inherent in its habitat, the hermit spider is quite capable of surviving. And yet he doesn’t like the cold, and therefore in winter he can also move living quarters through doors or windows.
He prefers to hide from people and live in secluded places: behind baseboards, furniture, batteries. It can also live at a distance from dwellings, in various shelters, for example, in a rock or under logs.
Now you know where the brown recluse spider lives. Let's see what it is.
What does the brown recluse eat?
The hunt is carried out exclusively on small insects, inferior in size to itself, most often significantly. This is due to the fact that he does not set up trapping nets, but hunts without them: he tracks down prey, after which he attacks and bites it, injecting poison. Without the help of the net, it is difficult for him to cope with large prey – it can be dangerous.
In his diet:
- small midges;
- small spiders, including fellow tribesmen;
- and similar living creatures.
After a bite, the victim is immediately paralyzed, and she can no longer resist – and most often dies in a matter of moments, since the poison of this spider is very strong. This method of hunting is still less effective than using the net, and therefore the hermit spider sometimes has to go without food for a very long time.
His body is accustomed to such a situation – it can store nutrients for the future for several weeks or even a month and a half ahead. It hunts at night, during the day it usually rests in secluded places – it does not like sunlight at all and tries to avoid it.
Interesting fact: Usually spider venom is poisonous to the extent necessary for subsistence. So, if a spider feeds on insects the size of a fly, it is just enough to quickly immobilize it. The larger the prey the spider hunts, the stronger its poison.
But with this species, everything is completely different: it preys on very small living creatures, but its poison is extremely toxic even for humans – and they are not afraid of the poison of almost any other spider. For researchers, it still remains a mystery why, in the course of evolution, he began to produce such a powerful poison.
Character and lifestyle features
Always tries to live in solitude so that he is not disturbed. This means that even if he settled in an apartment, he cannot be found somewhere in a conspicuous place, except perhaps during a hunt. In its course, it can move far away from the nest, especially if it does not live indoors, but outdoors.
If there is little prey in the place where he lives, he may even move to another. But long walks on the hunt are characteristic primarily of males, they also migrate more often, but females are much less easy to climb and spend almost all the time in the nest, trying not to move away from it.
Since they prefer to hide from people and is active at night, it is also usually possible to meet him at night, when he hunts – most often spiders bite people precisely because they disturb them, not noticing in the dark. A spider can be found in a shoe box or in a closet, and sometimes hunting can even lead him to bed.
If they do not encounter people, then they live by the standards of spiders for quite a long time – an average of 3-4 years, sometimes they can even reach the age of 6 years. During this time, the female manages to lay eggs many times, so if you leave the hermit spider alone, at some point you can find that there is already a whole family of them – therefore it is better to fight them right away, without waiting until there are a lot of them.
Social structure and reproduction
They almost always live alone, however, the possibility of forming groups is not excluded. The reasons why these spiders, usually avoiding the society of relatives, sometimes begin to live in groups, and large ones, have not yet been reliably established.
But one can only feel sorry for the owners of the premises in which such a group settled: it will be very difficult to deal with them and dangerous, cases of real invasions are known, and for the owners they sometimes ended very sadly, because these spiders are extremely poisonous.
At the same time, they are usually not inclined to attack people, and indeed any creatures other than prey: they bite only if they believe that they have been attacked. The problem here is that because of the small size of the spider, people sometimes simply do not notice it – and also because the meetings often take place in the dark.
For example, a spider may consider it an attack if it accidentally crushed a limb. In addition, females can be very aggressive if a person is near their clutch nest – they can bite even if he does not take any aggressive action.
Reproduction can occur several times a year – after fertilization, the female lays eggs in a cocoon, several dozen, sometimes up to fifty. After that, it stays nearby all the time and guards the masonry, even practically stops hunting. After hatching, spiderlings grow rapidly at first, and after about a month they begin to live separately. They reach sexual maturity by about a year.
Natural enemies of recluse spiders
Although this is a very poisonous and dangerous predator, there are also larger, more dexterous opponents who are not afraid of its poison, already feeding on it.
- wolf spiders;
- and some others.
When living in nature, it is threatened by many dangers, which is why, despite effective reproduction, the population of cinnamon hermit spiders remains quite stable – a very large number of them are exterminated by predators.
This is especially true for young spiders, predators are much easier to hunt for them than for those who have already gained experience, who have learned to hide and defend themselves, and who have become very dangerous adult hermit spiders. After all, an unsuccessful hunt for such a poisonous spider can end in the death of the hunter himself!
But in apartments there are much fewer threats to them, because in them these spiders can multiply quickly. Other spiders become the most terrible enemy in them, because although a hermit spider is dangerous for a person, by the standards of many other spiders it is relatively small in size, inferior in dexterity and strength.
Therefore, the presence of harmless spiders in the home can be useful. For example, haymakers are very effective against hermits, completely harmless to humans. Also among the enemies of the brown hermit spider, of course, are the people themselves.
Since they are very dangerous, they are often purposefully fought with poisonous substances to get them out of houses or utility rooms. Removing them from homes in the US states that are part of the range of these spiders is one of the main activities of pest control specialists.
Population and species status
Though habitat not very wide and covers only the states in the southeastern United States, but they are populated by representatives of this species quite densely, in the opinion of many residents of these states, even too much.
So their population is large and nothing threatens them – they themselves are certainly not going to die out, and it is not easy to breed them. It is precisely their excessive reproduction that causes concern: for example, there is evidence that the population of the brown recluse spider is growing significantly in the areas where it was introduced.
There is a risk that it will gain a foothold in these new territories, and even on other continents, and will begin to actively multiply there as well. Given its danger, such a development of events is highly undesirable, because it becomes more and more difficult to deal with it as it spreads.
Interesting fact: In the United States, about 7,000 people suffer from the bites of this spider every year. Its poison is very dangerous, while at first the bite may seem insignificant – usually there is almost no pain from it, and it is comparable to a mosquito. It starts to hurt after 3-4 hours, and more severe consequences occur after 7-8 hours.
Symptoms: nausea, weakness and dizziness, headache – all this indicates poisoning . If the bitten spider looks like a brown hermit, you can’t wait for symptoms – you must immediately go to the hospital, because if there is no timely treatment, necrosis is possible, moreover, everything can even end in death. the hermit is one of the most dangerous intruders who settle in the neighborhood with people. Therefore, being in its habitats, one should be careful, and if bitten, immediately consult a doctor – this is the only way to prevent the onset of very unpleasant consequences.