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Unknown spider in Arizona - Neoscona crucifera

Unknown spider in Arizona - Neoscona crucifera
Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
October 22, 2005
Size: ~ a quarter w/legs spread
This spider was killing something and looked quite vicious when we first saw it. We finally decided to capture it out of fear for our daughter since we hear of poisonous spiders here, including the Brown Recluse, Black Widow and the Arizona Brown Spider and a friend had recently ended up in the hospital from an unidentified spider bite. Anyone know what kind of spider it is?

Moved from Spotted Orbweavers.

This spider is some kind of orb weaver, harmless to humans and is good to have around as it will catch and eat many pests.
Please see this link for more information on " dangerous" spiders.

Re: your analysis of my spider
Thank you for your prompt response. I believe you have the one! I found this one searching for "orb weaver" which looks very close, even though it is in Pennsylvania. Thank you again!

Many with this body pattern
have been identified as Neoscona, in the guide here

Is it poisonous?
Is this one poisonous? I don't want to sound paranoid but my friend was just hospitalized and doesn't know what type of spider bit him...

Not Harmful
They do have venom, but it has very little to no effect on humans, so these spiders are harmless to humans.
By the way, what symptoms did your friend have?

Re: symptome from spider bite
He let the bite go for almost 10 days. Then he had a serious problem, He was in the local hospital for 4-5 days. They were putting a "string" inside the hole (he continued this after release) and then pulling it out at scheduled intervals for cleaning, as he states. I guess they were cleaning out the internal puss emitting from the body fighting the venom, along with the antibiotics (or whatever they they were pumping into him) working. Today, the wound looks pretty good, many weeks after the incident. Still has that 'volcano' look, with a hole in the center. Apparently, he was lucky and it was not a Brown Recluse. Maybe it was just a Black Widow or Arizona Brown Spider (as far as I know, poisonous, but not deadly - unless someone is allergic).

Spider Bites
Brown Recluse spiders aren't found west of Texas, so it doesn't take much luck to avoid them. Brown Recluse bites are astronomically over-diagnosed and over-hyped as this article explains. In fact, no fatalities have ever been proved to be the result of a Brown Recluse bite in the US.

Black widow venom is a neurotoxin- if it was a black widow bite, there would be very distinctive neurological effects like strong muscle contractions and intense pain.

Unless he actually saw the spider that bit him, chances are it wasn't even a spider bite.

He saw the spider but didn't save it
Yes, he saw the spider but didn't save it to verify what it was.
Brown recluses and their relatives have been found in Arizona (as well as southern California) and their bite is very serious:

Brown Recluse
First, let me clear up some confusion: the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) is only one species of the genus Loxosceles (sometimes called Brown Spiders). Some (maybe all) have necrotizing factors in their venom to a greater or lesser degree.

The Brown Recluse itself really isn't found west of Texas, but there are other Loxosceles in Arizona (the Arizona Brown Spider is one). Since your friend saw the spider bite him, odds are much better that his diagnosis is one of the few real ones. There's a Loxosceles in your area, so it's entirely possible that's what bit him. The map in your linked article seems to be a black and white version of this map With the color coding it's easier to tell the L. reclusa range from that of the other species.

Brown Recluse bites can indeed be extremely serious, but the vast majority heal quickly without complications (little red marks don't make the news- only the rare catastrophic cases).

As for Brown Recluses in California and the West: a handful have been found that came from elsewhere, but never an established population. To those who say they're just the tip of the iceberg, I might point out that escaped lions, tigers, pythons and hippos have also been found here (and about as often). In both cases, you can't rule out the possibility that they'll show up, but you'd be silly to lose sleep over it.

There are native Loxosceles in California, but they live in the desert and I don't think they've been implicated in serious bites. There's also a South American species (Loxosceles laeta) that's established in a small part of the Los Angeles area, but very few have encountered one and I doubt anyone's been bitten.

That leaves huge areas where no Loxosceles- let alone a Brown Recluse- has ever been found, and yet hundreds of bites are reported. The diagnoses are mostly by people who know nothing about Brown Recluses (or spiders, for that matter).

Unfortunately, this means that very serious conditions go untreated while doctors waste their time on a non-existent Brown Recluse bite. If they get worse as a result, it becomes further anecdotal evidence of how bad the bites are. Here is a fairly comprehensive article on Brown Recluse bites.

Actually most brown recluse spider bites result in only a small red mark that heals soon.

Their bites don't heal fast
If not treated right away then might end up like this

Be careful about over-generalizing
Most brown recluse bites really are trivial and heal quickly- but when they're bad, they're really, really bad! It's a good idea to have them looked at promptly just in case you got one of the few nasty ones.

If we were talking about dog bites, one could find pictures of children mauled to death by attack-trained pit bulls, but that'd be a bit misleading for someone worried about the neighbor's pekingese.

Even in the areas where there are dozens (even hundreds) of Brown Recluse per house, the rates for injury and death caused are much, much higher for normal househould pets.

Brown Recluse bites are potentially serious and should be treated as quickly as possible- but there's just too much hype and hysteria about them for us to be adding more.

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