Thursday, May 24, 2012
MAY 24, 2012 LOXOSCELES RECLUSA
Brown Recluse – Loxosceles reclusa Also know as the “violin spider” this spider causes the most serious bite wound of any of the spiders found in the United States. When you look at the geographic area of the brown recluse it should not be present in the New York area, however it is present in New York and in Fire Island. During my volunteer years in Fire Island I have seen some nasty 'infections' probably caused by spiders. Two of these individuals died weeks later, but initially came into the clinic with spider/insect bites and a large area of decaying tissue and cellulitis. Brown recluse spiders get blamed for every kind of pustule, boil or eruption that might affect a person.
The bite area will turn into a large open ulcerous wound as the venom causes the tissues to die. Unfortunately, these bites look a lot like wounds that appear when a break in the skin gets infected with Staphylococcus spp. bacteria often causing misdiagnosis.
After careful reading there are only two ways to accurately diagnose if the wound was caused by the brown recluse spider. For one, catching the spider in the act. You cannot miss this spider. The spider has a “violin” marking on the top of the cephalothorax and has very long legs compared to the body with a grayish colored abdomen. The other way to make an accurate diagnosis is to have a dermatologist do a biopsy of a fresh spider bite.
Not every nasty looking lesion is a spider bite, especially on Fire Island where many other insects can be blamed. There are hundreds of species of insects and spiders that occur on Fire Island. These range from beautiful dragonflies to monarch butterflies (although many butterfly bushes are gone) to mosquitoes. I can now say honeybees also inhabit the island. Ticks are the most superabundant.
Although it seems that most humans do not like insects, some of us do. I love insects. I think we learn a lot from insects. Rick and I have learned a lot about the democracy of honeybees from our beekeeping and reading lots and lots of books. Although I am reading other books currently, I will always read a different chapter in a Bee Book that I may have read before. I do this to keep my mind fresh. These insects on Fire Island are excellent pollinators. We need pollinators.
The dragonflies and damselflies are part of the genus Odonates. These insects are a good indicator of the wetland ecosystem that occurs on Fire Island. Studies done more than 7 years ago on the insects of the island revealed that the tenebrionid beetle, the ant and anthicid beetle and the plant hopper are the most abundant insects. This is true if you spend time looking through binoculars in the forest areas, the Sunken Forest and in the gardens. Butterflies and dragonflies are becoming rarer on this serene island. Why? The pesticides on the flowers and in the air. We are killing off vital insect species.
Be part of Saving the Earth--which does include insects.
I use many different remedies for insect bites. Fro example for an ant bite I use yellow dock tincture and baking soda, and for other insect bites I use essential oil of lavender (1 teaspoon) with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. I always make sure a bottle of this is already mixed and in the house. This is great for camping trips. To make a bite or sting poultice use 1 tablespoon of echinacea root, with 1/2 teaspoon of lavender oil and 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay and the water. This will make a great poultice for just about any sting. This is the first step. You must consider that an allergic reaction might occur from the sting. The individual might need further medical attention.
All photographs except the brown recluse are from 7song, Ithaca New York 1 Dragonfly, 2. Monarch Butterfly 3. Brown recluse 4. Wolf Spider, 5. Banded Garden spider, and 6. Spider with babies - Thank you 7song !
Resource: The American Arachnological Society ( http://www.americanarachnology.org/ ) or Entomological Society of America ( http://www.entsoc.org/ )