During a 6-mo period, 2,055 brown recluse spiders, Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik, were collected in a 19th-century-built, currently occupied home in Lenexa, KS. We conservatively estimate that at least 400 of these spiders were large enough to cause envenomation. Additional collections from more typically infested homes in Missouri and Oklahoma in 2001 yielded 45 and 30 brown recluse spiders, respectively. Despite these infestations, no envenomations of the inhabitants of these three homes occurred. Considering the levels of infestations with no bites in the homes presented here, nonendemic areas in the United States, which typically lack recluse spider populations and have had zero to few verified specimens of the spider, do not have sufficient numbers of brown recluse spiders to make envenomation a likely scenario. Despite this, physicians from nonendemic recluse areas often diagnose brown recluse bites which, therefore, are unlikely to be correct.
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Vol. 39 • No. 6