SPIDER ON THE COMPUTER DESK RIGHT WHERE I WAS ONLY MERE SECONDS AGO LEANING MY… MYSELF! That is downright SWAGGERING EFFRONTERY! It is simply unpardonable and to be punished immediately by death. *Squish.* Sorry, Jodi!

AND something has bitten me on the ankle! What if it was the bite of the dreaded brown recluse, which has a necrotizing effect on human tissue? My elder sister will forevermore wear on her body a testament to the results of such a bite; she is, I kid you not, missing a little chunk of flesh from her back! And don’t forget the gangrene lady who DIED from such a bite!

The “easy” identification of the brown recluse is supposed to be comforting. There is a violin or “fiddle”-shaped marking on the cephalothorax of these spiders (which is why they are often referred to as “fiddle-back” spiders in the South), but this marking can be faint (arbitrarily), especially if the spider has just molted. Thanks. Ever so helpful.

But wait:

The most definitive physical feature of recluse spiders is their eyes: most spiders have eight eyes that typically are arranged in two rows of four but recluse spiders have six equal-sized eyes arranged in three pairs, called dyads. There is a dyad at the front of the cephalothorax (the first main body part to which the legs attach) and another dyad on each side further back. (Thank you, University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. You seem to think you know a lot even though the Brown Recluse DOES NOT LIVE IN CALIFORNIA.)

What in the hell are you supposed to do precisely? Nicely ask the possibly deadly spider to hold still so you can get up RIGHT NEXT TO IT and count its little eyeballs – one, two, three, four, five… – and see if they are in the appropriate pattern of three dyads? That’s so reassuring to those of us who are myopic. PHEW! Eight eyes! It’s just a Hobo Spider…which…which also has a horrific necrotizing bite…RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!!!!!!

Hello, my name is Kate and I am an arachnophobic.

But can you really BLAME ME? We have such festive spiders here (I forgot to mention the Black Widow – hurrah – and the Yellow Sac Spider, Tarantulas, and MORE). And the most treacherous ones prefer to lurk in piles of things or hide in your laundry or sneak up your bedskirt!!! If you don’t think that’s quite disturbing enough, please take a look at this article from the American College of Physicians. Apparently, there was enough confusion that the ACP-ASIM felt the need to help doctors tell between the bite of the Brown Recluse and CUTANEOUS ANTHRAX. Good grief – don’t tell me spider bites are nothing to worry about when a major health organization includes them in a discussion of BIOTERRORISM. By the way, take a look at photos (which I will not be posting); I think you will agree that cutaneous anthrax looks a lot more innocuous than the spider bite.