The medical importance of the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik, is well known, but there is a need for more accurate information about the distribution of the spider in North America. We gathered information via an Internet offer to identify spiders in Illinois and Iowa that were thought to be brown recluses. We also mined brown recluse locality information from other agencies that kept such records. In Iowa, the brown recluse is unknown from its northern counties and rare in southern counties. In Illinois, brown recluse spiders are common in the southern portion of the state and dwindle to almost nonexistence in a transition to the northern counties. Although there were a few finds in the Chicago, IL area and its suburbs, these are surmised to be human-transported specimens and not part of naturally occurring populations. Considering the great human population density and paucity of brown recluses in the Chicago area, medical personnel therein should obtain patient geographic information and be conservative when diagnosing loxoscelism in comparison with southern Illinois, where the spiders are plentiful and bites are more likely.
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Vol. 51 • No. 1