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Defending the Brown Recluse Spider

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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I recently had the pleasure of working with the team at Buzz Hoot Roar, a new graphics-driven blog that shares and/or explains a scientific concept in 300 words or less. They asked me to be one of their participants, and I chose to illustrate a short piece they wrote about brown recluse spider bites, specifically their over-diagnosis. I made what I am now referring to as an info-comic: an information rich science story told with comics. I hope you like it! Follow Buzz Hoot Roar on Twitter to see more!

Katie McKissick About the Author: Katie McKissick is a former high school biology teacher turned science writer and cartoonist based in Los Angeles, CA. Her first book is called What's in Your Genes. You can find more of work at Follow on Twitter @beatricebiology.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. kienhua68 11:15 pm 10/10/2013

    That is all fine and dandy until you actually get bitten.

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  2. 2. scilo 12:34 am 10/11/2013

    I know a few people with scary spider pets. No one I know has ever been bitten by one. So I might believe this, but I won’t brush it’s teeth.

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  3. 3. David Cummings 7:05 am 10/11/2013


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  4. 4. jodibeau 4:42 pm 10/11/2013

    I live in a house surrounded by woods and have several sticky insect traps around the house provided by the exterminator. I must say that all the arachnids trapped inside have been brown recluse spiders which travel out of the walls of the house at night in order to hunt. They are definitely NOT cellar spiders; once you have seen the comparison, you won’t forget the difference. The good news is that if you do not have bedclothes that hang down and touch the floor, the recluse will not jump or climb into places where humans are. They are, however, not as rare as you think here in middle Tennessee.

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  5. 5. bucketofsquid 12:19 pm 10/14/2013

    Spiders do bite if they feel threatened. Like if you move in your sleep when they are traveling across you. I’ve had a number of spider bites over the years and each spider bite is different in how it progresses. Most spider bites for me are little different than any other bug bite. One way to tell is to use a magnifying glass to see if there is a puncture wound. Most bugs have 1 puncture. Spiders have 2 punctures close together. MRSA will generally not have a puncture so much as an abrasion or small cut.

    I recently ended the life of a poor spider while sleeping and it left me with 4 bites. It was a pretty metallic bronze like color. The bites got fairly large and red and itchy. If they didn’t have the double puncture I would have thought that they were just ‘skeeter bites. They did develop blisters like MRSA does and when the blisters drained there were deep holes. Maybe the spider let MRSA in with the bites. Either way they took a long time to heal and there are still red spots there even though they are fully healed.

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