Living in Arizona for many years, I have never seen a Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). I’d heard about them, but never came across one and I’ll tell you why. Arizona doesn’t have them. In Arizona they are called an Arizona Brown Spider, a closely related species. The Brown Recluse is a native of the Midwestern Unites States and on my summer vacation in Missouri, I saw three different ones (all in one week).
Here’s the thing about me: I don’t squish things. I set them free. Not bugs, not flies, not ants, not scorpions, not spiders, not even brown recluses. I guess I’d like to unofficially classify myself as some sort of naturalist? I don’t really have an explanation, except :
I grew up on a farm and played outdoors and appreciated everything about it (then and now). I didn’t have a TV until I was 7, after moving to AZ. It wasn’t because we couldn’t afford one, I don’t think. I never really asked. Music was a big deal growing up, as well as snapping green beans from the garden, watching the garden snakes swirl by me, swimming in clear rivers with the fish, waiting out the tornado warnings, eating snow with milk and sugar…. the outdoors were my life and I am so fortunate it was rooted into me.
On my trip in Missouri, the first Brown Recluse I found, my uncle killed. I collected it into a cup and without thinking, he folded the little paper cup used for rinsing your toothpaste out, and said “Yep, that was a brown recluse”. The second spider, my dad smashed. The third, everyone was asleep and it was just it and me. I trapped it with a new small paper cup and slid an envelope underneath it to enclose it. The fear of this highly venomous spider just a centimeter away from my fingertips sent shivers down my spine! I decided to lift the envelope to make sure it was inside the cup and I didn’t see it! I dropped the amateur trapping device and out it crawled. I then snapped a photo with my phone, a really low quality photo shot, but I was too scared to attempt a “good shot”. I then pushed it back into the small cup and took it outside and set it free. All three spiders were found in the bathroom where there was a small opening, about the size of a silver dollar, next to the shower faucet. I stuffed the opening with some toilet paper and never saw another one the rest of the trip. That night I slept with the lights on and researched Brown Recluses until 3am.
The several articles I found were all regarding an infestation case in Missouri. In 2014, a house in Weldon Springs was infested with around 4500-5000 Brown Recluses. Of course I read this article first, and many terrifying other articles after. Rest assured, my brother sent me one that allowed me to sleep peacefully, “WHY YOU NEED NOT FEAR THE POOR, MISUNDERSTOOD BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER . Check it out for peace of mind.
“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” – E. O. Wilson