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Possibly dangerous hunter

Two years ago I was bitten on my right hip by something, probably while I slept. The only visible marks were two small, distinct marks (pink flesh wounds similar to the result of a prick of a needle). The first time I knew something was wrong was when, in putting on my shorts that morning, I lightly pressed against my hip. I immediately fell to the floor with a cry--the pain was the worst I have ever felt, like a gunshot to my marrow. In tenderly inspecting the area I found that I had lost feeling across the entire surface of my right hip--diameter of 4-5 inches. I called my doctor and he said to forget about it, it would probably go away. It didn't. The severe pain with pressure over the bite area stayed with me for 3 months. I didn't regain feeling across my hip for about 8 months.

As the pressure pain faded I began to have stabbing pains at odd times in my right hip. Over time they have spread throughout my body. I have continuous muscle spasms in my legs (myokymia and fasciculations) and muscle cramping and twitching throughout my body. After a visit to Mayo clinic in Min. the neurology dept made the assessment of an unkown autoimmune disease triggered by a venomous bite. Since then, over a year ago, we have found that I have a form of a rare disease called neuromyotomia, which is debilitating.

In the meantime, our pet cat was bitten by something and over the course of 24 hours she began to have continuous muscle spasms throughout her body and then died. When we perceived she was not feeling well--lethargy--we brought her to the vet. He examined her and found nothing wrong, but took a blood sample. The next morning when I went to look in on her in her bed, she was having mysterious muscle spasms rippling throughout her body. I took her back to the vet. When I walked in he was shocked; he said he expected her to be fine because the blood sample came back normal. Two hours later she died. The vet said he had never seen anything like it and could not explain it. When I brought her in the second time, I did find a marble-sized internal lump under the skin of her belly that had not been there the day before.

In speaking with a spider expert, I was told that I should be looking for a large spider, a hunter, with large fangs. We tore the house apart and collected every specimen, but didn't find any spider like the description, except for a very mysterious looking (skin? whatever a spider sheds) of a large, orange-ish spider. The expert I sent the specimens singled that (carapace?) out and exhorted us to find the live specimen. For a year we have looked and not found it. Until now.

Recently, while I was in the shower unfortunately, my wife was surprised by a very large, very different looking spider running across the floor. Our new cat chased it and the spider turned and raised its fangs in defense. Afraid that it would bite the cat, remembering what happened to our last one, she threw a cardboard box at it and killed it. I found out about the episode when I came out of the shower--if there I would have put a bowl over it to capture it, but such is life. I collected the specimen, still mostly intact, and took closeup pictures of it. I have the spider preserved.

The spider has distinct markings. I have looked through the entire BugGuide database of spiders (about 5,000) and have not found a match. I have also checked the Nearctic Spider database to no avail. I have been to the libary and researched all the books that include spiders but did not find a match.

I wanted to post the picture on the Bug Guide site, but there are strict restrictions at ID Request to NOT post images of mutilated insects.

I don't know how to describe spider technically, but here's an effort: Stretched out to full length the spider would be close to the length of a quarter--not including its legs, which are very long. The cephalothorax is a hairless, burnt orange color with a broad, brighter stripe down its back and thinner stripes that border the cephalothorax. The legs, also a burnt orange are hairless except for a few, small, thick hairs. the fangs are large and appear to curl under to cross at the tips when at repose. The abdomen is brown, and appears hairless, but on close inspection seems to have hairs very close to the body. The abdomen has a thin, very distinct, bright "christmas tree" pattern--thicker near the pedicel and tapering a little down to the bottom of the abdomen. No other markings on the top of the abdomen. The bottom of the abdomen appears to have a simliar marking, although not quite as distinct.

The spider expert said that the initial bite symptoms I described are like nothing he has ever heard of (and people call him all the time from around the country), although the toxin would fall into the neurotoxin category. And now it seems I have a very uncommon spider caught in my home that seems to fit the description. I can email the images to anyone who would like a closer look. This is not a hoax. I have a medical paper trail that leads right back to the bite, including a paper trail for my cat. I have had medical bills totaling over $100,000 in the past two years in an effort to stop the spasms and get some relief from the debilitating stabbing pains--to no avail, yet. It seems chemo is my next best option.

Please help identify this specimen, please.

Demystification
I know this forum is several years old, but I am so shocked to find no one offering a few obvious responses that I feel obligated to say a few things for the benefit of the hapless lay-person searching Google for information on Ctenus species.

First and foremost, John Myers mentioned speaking with a "spider expert" after his bite, and the expert said to look for a "large spider, a hunter, with large fangs." These are simply not the words of an “expert,” or even serious spider enthusiast. None of the North American species known to be poisonous to humans match this description. Species of Hogna, Dolomedes, Argiope, etc. are more likely to be collected than anything dangerous. The term “hunter” is ambiguous at best. This refers to spiders that do not catch prey via web, but who knows. The last criterion of “large fangs” is blatantly ridiculous and deserves no further acknowledgment. Take home message: in the future be VERY careful whose opinions you consider “expert.”

I am very thankful for Chuck Entz noting Ctenus hibernalis is native. I cannot find a key to Ctenus species, but I understand there are several similarly looking species. I have a suspicion they are the same species, and may even be lumped with C. captiosus. A molecular phylogenetics analysis would be telling. Nevertheless the species group including those species extends far beyond Alabama’s boarders (contrary to the note by Chuck Entz). I have personally collected members of that species complex commonly from KY (from which I hail), IN, GA, AL, FL, TN, and most recently AR. In fact, I am currently keeping the two AR specimens as pets (I will submit pictures soon). I am mentioning this just to illustrate further these spiders are indeed native… we are the intruders.

I get the impression this forum regards Ctenus as probably poisonous to humans. I think most of you acknowledge the anecdotal nature of all these reports, but if I am reading between the lines correctly, it seems some are leaning toward a poisonous Ctenus. John Myers was possibly bitten by a spider one night and experienced serious subsequent symptoms (which I am truly sorry to hear about… I hope things are better now). However, a person with absolutely no arachnological training, who did not even see the perpetrator, incriminating the correct species years later (especially based on the “expert” criteria explained above) is more than highly unlikely. If this was a murder trial, the judge would laugh hysterically upon hearing the intricacies of the case, and then dismiss it casually without hesitation. I caution readers to associate the implications seen on this page with any spider (much less a particular species of spider), especially crediting Ctenus as invoking the onset of neuromytonia.

As noted before, I am surprised to see this forum, presumably frequented by scientifically-minded people, almost completely devoid of intense skepticism. The claims John Myers made in his original post could have been responded to appropriately without even thinking about potential spider species. Even if he sent in pictures of a squashed black widow or Phoneutria (VERY poisonous Brazilian ctenids) collected years after he was bitten and his cat died, that squashed spider should NEVER be suspected as the culprit. Ultimately, the conclusions (or implications) made on this page regarding North American Ctenus species should be considered highly suspect bordering the realm of gullibility. I have held these beasts with my bare hands since I was a kid and have never been bitten (contrary to lycosids). I encourage all to investigate further their natural history, which can be done in the field or by keeping some as pets in the home. Do not be afraid to observe them closely or even hold them as they are relatively docile (though they will run jerkily about, which may falsely give them the appearance of an aggressive creature). Disclaimer: when holding spiders, NEVER press the spider between two surfaces, as this will invoke biting—simply allow the beast to walk/run over your hands.

 
Blind leading the blind
"These are simply not the words of an “expert,” or even serious spider enthusiast."

Nor is the word "poisonous" as attached to spiders a term "an expert or even serious spider enthusiast" would use.

 
Good point... sort of...
I have been attempting to dissociate myself from this particular forum… as I now regard my attack on this anti-rationalism to be naïve at best and insensitive at worst. My original goal was to expose the lack of science in many of the claims, and to remove Ctenus from witch-hunt status. Though I think these are noble goals, I think this was an inappropriate battleground. Most people are accustomed to a “don’t believe everything you read on the internet” mentality... so perhaps my fear of Ctenus being targeted as a human threat and going the way of saber-toothed cats and mammoths was exaggerated. Nevertheless… I would like to make two replies to this comment… which should perhaps be discussed in other forums (indeed if you want to reply extensively… let’s start another forum!).

The first is a response to the term “expert” that is so lavishly thrown about (here and elsewhere). In my experience, real expert don’t call themselves experts. Consider the quote by OW Holmes from “Poet at the Breakfast Table”: “No one can truly be called an entomologist, sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.” All too much is made over who is an expert and who is not. I’ve been corrected on insect identification from people who clearly don’t know much about insects, just as I’ve corrected museum curators on their identifications. In fact, even “correctness” is a debatable concept in science. In the end, information is just there to help you learn about and enjoy the world around you… or at least (as is relevant here) help you not be unfoundedly terrified. This is a really hard point to make though... because on one hand, experts should always be questioned... but on the other, non-experts having learned this can question so strongly that they don't learn anything. Honestly, I haven't found a good way to verbalize my thoughts on this matter. Either way, dismissing claims like this one without deeply investigating is neither non-expert-like nor narrow-minded, especially given the preposterous number of such claims being made on even well-studied systems. It would not surprise me at all if Ctenus had venom capable of producing horrible effects, but jumping to conclusions is a very real danger and typically a greater danger outside of science. Ultimately, I just think more caution is necessary with such things than what was displayed here.

Your other comment about poisonous/toxic/venomous is another thing that has troubled me for a long time, so I’m glad you brought it up. I used to think there was a very real discrepancy here and (like you) went about correcting people on their language... but now I have no problem with the terms used interchangeably and have several reasons. First, perhaps the most powerful explanation but also the least relevant is simply convention. Whether or not we like it, people really do use them interchangeably, knowledgeable or not. The fact is words evolve… it’s up to us to keep up. Second, I don’t think we have an adequate term for what we mean when we distinguish widows from orb weavers. I agree with your point about “poisonous”, but the alternative is certainly not venomous. Most spiders are venomous, but only a few bother humans. Toxic seems ok… but all ingestible poisons are toxic too… so maybe “toxically venomous”? Distinguish this from people with allergies or from someone like John Myers (apparently neuromyotonia, although thought to have a genetic basis, can be exacerbated by all manner of things like bee stings, spider bites, or nothing at all), or even phobia. Ultimately, I think if you can get your message across (don’t get bitten by that animal because it’s venom can affect your body chemistry negatively so much so as to ruin your day), you’re fine. In my experience, "poisonous" does this well.

All of that said, please don’t get the idea that I’m really put off by your comment. On the contrary… you made my point beautifully! All I wanted from the beginning was someone to read the account here with the skepticism and scrutiny that you displayed toward my reply. If that opens further constructive discourse, progress has been made. So… thanks and keep it up! Again though... let's open another forum topic if there's more to say on these subjects... others may want to weigh in and it will get lost here.

 
Interesting input
Ray,

Just a couple of comments about your comments:

In reference to calling various people "experts," I believe we can certainly do that when we're referring to those who are perhaps the only person to have done any in-depth study on any particular subject. That is, they are "more expert" than the rest of us, or at least come the closest to being an "expert" on the subject. Certainly their word should carry weight due to the time and resources they've invested.

In the case of those to whom I have referred to as "experts," I'm pointing to entomologists who are using the scientific method to study the effects of Ctenus spider venom. Such people are more expert than the rest of us on that subject. A veteranarian is an "expert" on animals and the diseases that affect them--more so than I am or you are. We have to refer to SOMEONE, in the end, and why not those who are studying the specific issue than those who are not? Or at least they are more knowledgeable than anyone else I could find.

Second, you make reference to people being made unfoundedly terrified about the Ctenus spider family. If that comment is referring to me, I don't believe anything I have written was directed to cause such a thing. In fact, I make very specific attempts to state that the conclusions I was drawing were circumstantial. Facts: I WAS bitten by something; that something had distinguishable fangs; the bite was serious (never mind the resulting disease); my cat was bitten in my home by something that left a bite mark indicating large fangs, and she died within 18 hours of symptoms not related to any known cat disease (and as strictly a house cat she was not exposed to anything else, either); we found no black widows, no brown recluse, but we did find Ctenus hibernalis, a spider not previously known to frequent homes (and everything else we found was known to be harmless); there are other spiders within the same family that are known to be dangerously toxic to humans.

Jumping to conclusions? Yes. Within reason? Again, I believe yes. Did I order a witch hunt? Absolutely not! Consider the title of my first post--the one soon after I was bitten: "Possibly dangerous hunter." I didn't state anything for certain; I just wanted to post my story and receive input . . . this from a man hurting and confused.

I wasn't on a witch-hunt. In fact I, who believed himself to be seriously bitten by the same spider, did not go out and kill as many as I could, but ventured out in the middle of the night and collected as many live specimens as I could (50), and then stored, cared, fed and watered them for two weeks, after which I mailed them (under the best possible conditions) to someone who intended to raise and breed them as an experienced breeder. Does that sound like someone scared out of their wits? Or like someone interested in the truth?

I operated as far as possible under the scientific method (consulting professors of entomology, venom "extractionists," book authors, sending samples to them all, looking up thousands of spiders and other insects and studying venom effects of all varieties, etc, etc; hours and hours of research), all in an attempt to either clear the name of hibernalis or find it to be the culprit and possibly dangerous to humans. Was that warranted? I believe so. Was it a witch hunt? I think you'd be hard-pressed to say so.

From the very beginning I always saw possible benefits from the study of a venom so potent; after all, the bite numbed my hip for EIGHT months! Can you imagine the benefits of isolating such a property? Do you have a relative with incurable back pain? Imagine that person leading a normal life for months after one shot. I wanted far more than to simply identify a dangerous spider, but to find out what had that kind of potency and potential.

In the end, I simply wanted to get to the bottom of it: something bit me in my home causing me the most excruciating pain I have ever felt (for months!), and I had small children in the same home, not to mention my wife. Wouldn't you want to know what it was?

Thirdly, I deeply appreciate the tone of your recent post: that now you consider your attack to have been naive and insensitive. When someone is in such pain and confusion, and they feel the lives of their family may be at risk, you can understand their emotions might run high. This forum was the best place for me to post my story at the time; there was (and is) no other out there even close to bugguide in which I could gather as much information so quickly and from so many so interested and informed people. I know . . . I looked and looked and looked. You're right, perhaps another forum is needed.

I appreciate your flexibility. I believe my story is well documented here (obviously not made up over such a length of time) and as such could benefit other people who think they might have been bitten by an insect that has caused them subsequent serious illness. The posts of the skeptical as well as the supportive all contribute to help demonstrate the whole mindset, i.e. what they will be up against, what they should consider, who they should talk to, etc. I hope my story will not discourage them from attempting to find answers here, either.

So I think there is benefit for people who are scared to come here and post. There's no need for all the posturing and jostling for top spot and cursory judgments; there are real people with real problems trying to find answers who come here occasionally. Let's just try to be more sympathetic and understanding when they do. Let's try to comprehend why they are so scared. After all, their uneasiness just may warrant caution; time will tell.

John

P.S. Ray, I liked your statements about naming things. I agree, we have to change with the language. People, like me, might misuse a term, but it's only because "everyone" is doing it. It was "muscle memory" for me to refer to spider venom as "poisonous." I know the "correct" word is toxic, and I've even corrected others on it before, but in this instance I used "poisonous."

Words, such as "impact," have come to have whole new meanings and common usages apart from their original ones, and the dictionary will eventually come to reflect them. To label a person in one's mind, or in a post, as stupid or uninformed simply because they've misused a word is narrow-minded. I should know, I've committed the crime myself enough times in the past (and I can only hope that mistake will remain there).

 
...
I am a "scientifically-minded person", and a great skeptic of many spider bite claims. That being said, until we have data on the effects of injected spider venom from every group of spiders out there, we will not know the effects! The fact is that venoms are toxins, designed to kill, incapacitate, and digest organisms they are injected into.
I believe it to be an error to discount a toxic effect of this spider bite without conclusive evidence to the contrary. To do so is not scientific-minded, just narrow-minded.

 
Re: Demystification
Ray, thanks for your comments. What mystifies me is an apparent resistance among arachnid enthusiasts and specialists to ever attribute any toxic bite to any species other than the Black Widow or Brown Recluse (aside from obscure references to a couple of species in California and the Pacific Northwest).

Let me reply to the seemingly sarcastic tone of your comments regarding what type of spider I was to look for. You said that looking for a spider with large fangs was "ridiculous." But you failed to mentioned why I was looking for such a spider. The clear fang marks on my hip were separated by about 1/8 of an inch. Any insect that could leave such wide-spread marks would have to have comparatively large fangs. With a Black Widow's bite, on the other hand, the fangs are so small and close together that you would not be able to see but one mark from its bite. The same was true of the marks on my cat's stomach.

It seems you regard yourself as an expert, but you would be incorrect in lumping what we found and "several similarly looking species" with C. Captiosus. The species we found, and have since collected several more identical ones, ARE Ctenus HIBERNALIS and nothing else. There is no question about that fact, as it has been verified by an professor who is an arachnid specialist in a university department and an arachnid specialist who works with a state agricultural department.

Furthermore, I have conceded from the beginning that the evidence for Hibernalis as the culprit is circumstantial. However, as I continue to degrade neurologically, with no cure in sight, I feel somewhat compelled to settle the matter. This season an arachnid specialist (oh, yes--he's legitimate!), several friends and I will be looking to collect live specimens of Hibernalis. We will send these specimens to someone who intends, of all things, to conduct a "molecular phylogenetics analysis" and we can settle this once and for all.

As a side note, a biologist (and CERTIFIED arachnid specialist), recently contacted me about a husband and wife who had both been bitten by something that left wide-spaced fang marks (large fangs?) and they experienced the same extreme initial symptoms and residual neurological symptoms that "simply won't go away." In investigating the case, the biologist has collected several specimens of Hibernalis on glue traps inside their home. Circumstantial? Yes. But worth looking into? Absolutely!

P.S. Just because you have spiders as pets, does not entitle you make sweeping remarks like "none of the North American species known to be poisonous to humans match this description." Ah, it's the common retort to anyone claiming to have severe reactions to a spider bite caused by anything other than a black widow or brown recluse. I think the key word in your statement is "known." Obviously we, including trained arachnid specialists like yourself, can't possibly make the claim to "know" everything about spiders in the good ol' USA, can we?

There are documented cases of people being bitten by Parsons Spider (it was seen biting the person) and those people subsequently experienced severe symptoms for days very similar to a Black Widow bite. Hmmm, perhaps there are other dangerous spiders we have yet to uncover . . .

 
How is John Myers?
All the other discussion aside (which I have found interesting... and it's nice to see intelligent debate) I am wondering how you, John Myers, are doing? I'm not sure if you're still subscribed to this thread, but if you are I hope you are well again.

 
Agreed!!
Thanks Lynette! I definitely don't want discussion to bleed into the severity of reality. My best thoughts and hopes to you John! I really hope things are going better.

 
Thanks for asking
I really appreciate your interest in my condition. I am now on disability. My condition continues to elude specific medical designation, although I am now grouped into a category called "Cramping and Fasciculation Syndrome." My doctor, as experienced as she is with this syndrome has never had someone with such a specific problem before. She suspects my body is manufacturing unknown, un-studied antibodies that are attacking the nerves of my muscles in some way.

I continue to be plagued by severe, and often crippling, spontaneous muscle cramping. I have to vary the medications I take from time to time as my body grow used to them, but I am always on a combination of pain (opioids) and anti-seizure (Lyrica, Lamictal, etc) medications. There is no cure for me now, and we are looking to sell our home to move into something one-level and eventually wheelchair accessible, if that becomes necessary. I sleep in my hot tub most nights (took many tries to get it just right with combination of floatation devices!) as lying down hurts (of course, sitting hurts, walking hurts . . .).

The venom extraction expert in Arizona has not come out again, but I will give him a call here in the next week or two as the weather warms up. Last time we spoke he said he wanted a sampling of 100 or more spiders this next time (to review, his first batch of 50 we caught and sent to him all died because he had the air too dry for them, but he's since fixed that situation and can now accommodate them with their more humid environment).

I got a shock about two years ago to wake up one morning, sit up on my bed and see one of the largest CH resting on my bedroom wall right at eye-level across from me--almost like she was taunting me! I've since found ways to keep them out of my home (partly from advice on this site; mostly I've found fogging my attics at intervals to be the most effective way of de-bugging my home).

The professor who helped me catch the 50 we sent to Arizona five or six years ago (has it been that long?) had an interesting encounter he told me: he was in a classroom one day relating to colleagues the adventure we had capturing spiders when to his utter surprise a large CH "strolls" in under the door! When they all turned to look at it, it promptly raised its front legs in an aggressive/defensive posture. They tried shooing it away, but it stood its ground and would turn to face whomever approached from whatever side. Eventually they were able to place a glass jar over it without harming it . . . and then it promptly flipped over and died! (He's an entomologist, so he should know whether it was faking or not.) He said he's never seen a spider act that way--and die that way--before, and he figures they might have scared it to death. Or perhaps it was old and just about to die anyway. Strange happenings and coincidences, huh? (And I'm not trying to imply anything, just interesting occurrences that might shed light on their behavior).

All in all I'm good spirits; I have a thoughtful, loving family and a wealth of supportive friends. I continue to advise my doctors on the best course of action for me. I've found the saying, "You're your own best doctor!" is so true; they just don't have the time and mental space to tackle one person's case, as willing as they might be.

There's a forum for people suffering from any condition falling under Isaac's Syndrome, Neuromyotonia, and Cramping and Fasciculation Syndrome, and that has been an incredible help to me; we're even changing the way neurologists define the symptoms of such syndromes. We (200 +) found in polling that 90 percent of us suffer chronic, severe pain as part of our conditions, and that has not been on the "official" list of symptoms before.

I've not yet given in to depression (though I'm not so proud to admit it couldn't happen one day). I've actually seen many good things come of my experience; mostly I've been able to encourage other long-sufferers along the way, and that's very satisfying for me. I've also discovered that any fear of death I used to have has, for the most part, flown the coop. That development has come about because I would not be sad to leave this life and enter into the next free from pain . . . as that is my expectation.

Whenever I reflect on journey into chronic pain I find the most difficult hurdle was accepting it as a companion that would hang with me for the long haul. My experience--and that of others I've come to know--has led me to believe that just getting over the hump of acceptance is the hardest, but most advantageous act a chronic sufferer can do for themselves to move forward and avoid sinking into depression. Acceptance dosen't mean defeat, however.

Thanks again for asking! John

 
Glad to hear your spirits are good
and I'm sorry to hear that your condition is not improving. You are an inspiration to me. Your attitude reminds me of a commencement speech I recently heard.

If you don't mind would you consider emailing me the name of your professor so that I can ask to be kept updated on his research?

 
Another good point!
John, I strongly second Lynette's sentiment and thank you Lynette for this post!

I too am strongly interested in the research by the professor you mentioned. Would you please email me his info as well? I can collect loads of Ctenus exlineae (as noted before.. a very similar species) here in Arkansas to help with this research. Comparative study might be really helpful. Also, anecdotally, I've noticed C. exlineae seems to be in dryer/cooler microhabitats than C. hibernalis, which may mean they are hardier in captivity.

New update on Hibernalis
I have posted two more images of two more specimens of Ctenus Hibernalis found in two separate homes from my own. One home was quite nearby, while the other was from a home in the country north of Birmingham. The one found in a home near mine was the second one seen in that home. I have found multiple discarded carcasses or "skins" of others around my home. I have yet to capture a live one.

This evidence should corroborate my idea that this species is quite comfortable living in and around people in their homes. This has never been known before now. Either they have always been as common but simply stealthy, or they are becoming more common.
Either alternative is not desirable.

My mysterious illness has finally been officially diagnosed as neuromyotonia. I have found one other peer-reviewed article in a neurology journal of a man who acquired the same neurological condition after being stung by wasps. We are now being forced into trying chemotherapy to try to stop the progression.

Interestingly enough, four years later the bite area on my right hip still often throbs with a deep, stabbing ache.

They're here!
I sent the spider to a researcher friend who milks spiders for pharmaceutical research and who is an expert on spiders. He guessed it might be a Ctenus Captiosus but he could not be sure. He sent it on to a biology professor at the U of Florida and we're awaiting his conclusion. Meanwhile I found an exoskeleton of Captiosus in a shed next to my garage, so it seems they have arrived in my neighborhood. Researchers in Florida found that they can proliferate and come to dominate an area.

There was some speculation from Floridians whether necrotic lesions that many blamed on the Recluse were actually from Captiosus. In some further reading I found a report from the department of biochemistry and molecular physics at U of Arizona (http://www.lclark.edu/~binford/SMDDistribution%20copy.pdf) that did a preliminary study on some venoms, including Captiosus. They were looking for sphingomyelinase D in particular. S D is apparently the protein responsible for dermonecrotic lesions from bites, such as the Recluse and Hobo. I had read elsewhere the same conclusion they reached: that Captiosus does not carry SD; circumstancial evidence that Captiosus venom is a neurotoxin.

There was an interesting discovery for me in the report, however. In their analysis and comparison of 20 spiders, they found Captiosus carries a total venom protein of 604 (mgyspider), while the next highest was from a Sicarius spider from South Africa with 331. The recluse carries 30. I'm not sure what that means except that it implies that Captiosus can pack a punch! Unfortunately they did not analyze the venom any further.

 
Ctenus hibernalis is native
If that's what it is, then there's nothing out of the ordinary in finding it outdoors. The species doesn't seem to be well-known because it's only found in parts of Alabama. It may be that nobody's studied its toxicity because there haven't been enough interactions with humans to bring it to anyone's attention.

There are so many people out there obsessing over whether they're going to get killed by Brown Recluses and Hobo Spiders that the relatively tiny number of people who've been actually bitten by dangerous spiders tend to get lost in the confusion.

Fortunately, you did what every spider-bite victim should do, but most don't: you caught a specimen for identification. That's pretty much the only way to be sure one is being treated for the right thing.

Some of the conditions mistaken for spider bites are very serious if not treated correctly, and even getting treatment for the wrong type of spider bite can be a real problem.

Very interesting.
I am very sorry to hear about your bite and current condition. I looked into it the poisonous spiders of america, and found some interesting things that may also interest you or others in this forum. I headed over to the SDSU library and found one book on araneism, which mostly covered the biology and such of the Latrodectus sp. of America, but found other information as well. I found information on the species of Chiracanthium of the world, and after reading a bit, a few things caught my attention. One discription of a man bit by C. punctorium (not native to the U.S) had several matching symptoms, such as excruciating local pain lasting several days, sharp pains, and change in sensitivity including numbness and pricking sensations. The text later suggested that the bit of C. diversum can produce more severe symptoms. They don't leave ulcerations, as do C. inclusum of the U.S., and can sometimes be found in houses as the text suggests. Maybe this is relevant, as it could be you were bit by this spider and thought it was the one above, or maybe not. Also, I looked into the Ctenids a little, but found no information on bites of the U.S. species. There is the possibility that it was an imported species, but that is quite rare. The photo does resemble Ctenus hibernalis, but I believe that it more closely resembles Ahahita punctulata,which is native to Alabama a picture can be found at http://canadianarachnology.dyndns.org/data/spiders/20438. I am very suprised that you have such long lasting symptoms, but that may be because of a personal sensitivity. I was bitten by an unknown spider several years ago while building a fence, and withing 3 days my arm had swelled to twice it's normal size. I had excrutiating pain even when I bent my arm, and required the use of a sling for a week. Even though I kept it clean, the bite became quite infected, with a large section that eventually bursted with infection. It may be that the bite became infected and your body reacted violently. I'm no doctor, but I can say that there are hundreds of scenarios that can lead to hundreds of outcomes. I hope that the information that I have posted can help you identify your spider, and possibly answer some questions about poisonous spiders.

Ctenus
Jeff Hollenbeck has IDed this as a Ctenus, possibly Ctenus hibernalis. I can't find any references as to toxicity on the web, but a South American relative, Phoneutria fera, is considered by many the most dangerous spider in the world due to its aggressive behavior and extremely potent neurotoxin venom.

That species has appeared in the news because it has been found a few times in bananas shipped from its native range and has bitten people.

 
It
should be mentioned that according to Florida's Fabulous Spiders(1) 'It would not be to too suprising to find that a Florida wandering spider (Ctenus captiosus) can also give a serious bite'.
Also noted is 'One suspected bite from this species occured in Ft. Meyers to a woman who subsequently had a necrotic wound, as well as prolonged effects to her nervous system'.
Although the species may be different, the symptoms of the bite are probably similar within the genus.

 
great
interesting website with many links http://triffophoto3.tripod.com/tpo/id8.html

Photos posted
I just posted top and bottom photos of this spider in Request ID

 
Cross-reference
These are the images:

in this case ...
Go ahead and post it, I don't believe anyone will mind - never heard of anything like this. Don't forget to indicate locale as well as size or place a coin nearby, etc for scale. Always possible this is an unwanted import.

The image can be frassed later.

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