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J Med Entomol. 2009 Jan;46(1):15-20.

Distribution of the brown recluse spider (Araneae: Sicariidae) in Georgia with comparison to poison center reports of envenomations.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


Georgia is on the southeastern margin of the native range of the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik. The brown recluse is not a common Georgia spider and has limited distribution in the state. Using recent submissions, previously published records, and examination of museum specimens, we document the spider's presence in 31 (19.5%) of Georgia's 159 counties, with almost all being found in the northern portion. The spider was collected almost exclusively north of the Fall Line (a transition zone separating the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain geological provinces). Only two locations in the southern Coastal Plain province produced L. reclusa specimens; these southern finds are considered spiders that were transported outside their range. There were six finds of the non-native world tramp species, L. rufescens (Dufour), three south of the Fall Line. In conspicuous contrast, over a 5-yr period, a Georgia poison center database recorded 963 reports of brown recluse spider bites from 103 counties. These figures greatly outnumber the historic verifications of brown recluses in the state for both specimen quantity and county occurrence, indicating improbable spider involvement and the overdiagnosis of bites. In the southern half of the state, medical diagnoses of brown recluse spider bites have virtually zero probability of being correct. Bite diagnoses should be made with caution in north Georgia given the spider's spotty distribution with low frequency of occurrence.

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