Kansas Couple Has 2,000+ Brown Recluse Spiders In Their Home

Diane Barger had been living in her Lenexa, Kansas, home for more than five years when her 13-year-old daughter noticed there was something distinctive about the spiders she had seen so often in the 150-year-old house. Many of them had the shape of a violin on their backs, which is a characteristic of the dreaded brown recluse spider. Their venom is said to be so poisonous that a single bite can be fatal. Barger quickly collected a few of the spiders and headed down to the University of Kansas, where her son had just enrolled as an entomology major. Indeed, her daughter had been right. The spiders were brown recluse spiders. That finding sent Barger and her husband off on a mission that led to new thinking about the threat of brown recluse spiders. Richard S. Vetter, a researcher at the University of California’s Department of Entomology is the leading expert in the field of brown recluse spiders. Vetter asked the Bargers to capture as many spiders as they could — dead or alive — and send them to him. So, for six months, the family crawled around from the attic to the basement of their old limestone house and wound up catching a staggering 2,055 brown recluse spiders. What amazed researchers is that not one of the family members had ever been bitten. After months of research, Vetter and his team came to one conclusion: Many skin lesions are misdiagnosed by doctors as brown recluse spider bites. The fact that a family of four was living in a house with approximately 2,000 brown recluse spiders for five years without one single spider bite means the brown recluse has been getting a bad rap all these years. Now, arachnologists say that brown recluse spiders are very shy and rarely bite humans.