September 21, 2002
The state established a new Web site about venomous spiders after one of the world's most toxic species was discovered at a Central Florida home recently.
Sixteen Chilean recluse (Loxosceles laeta) spiders were removed from a home in Winter Haven in Polk County in July, prompting the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to put up the Web site with photos and information about them and other poisonous spiders found in Florida.
The Chilean recluse is native to South America but has shown up recently in California, Kansas and Massachusetts. This was the first time it was detected in Florida.
They were exterminated in the house where they were found, and inspections of nearby houses turned up no more of the half-dollar-size spiders, whose color ranges from pale yellow to reddish brown.
Most recluse spiders are nocturnal and generally not aggressive to people, the Agriculture Department said. They most often dwell in dark, undisturbed places in buildings.
They are believed to have entered the state in luggage and cargo, the department said.
The Chilean recluse is reputedly the most toxic of the recluse spiders and has been implicated in a few deaths in South America. Reactions to its bite range from no noticeable effect to severe decay or death of skin around the wound.
Anyone finding a spider thought venomous can call the department's Division of Plant Industry at (352) 372-3505.
ON THE WEB: More about poisonous spiders in Florida: www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/enpp/ento/entcirc/entcirc406.pdf.