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Venomous Spiders - the Brown Recluse
Have you heard horror stories about the bite of the brown recluse spider? How would you know if you ran into one of these arachnids? How could you use one or more of these venomous creatures in your writing?
The first thing you need to look at is the color of the spider. A brown recluse, as its name says, is brown. While most arachnids have eight eyes, the brown recluse only has six. I'm sure you've always heard that the one definite way to recognize a brown recluse is by a darker brown spot in the shape of a fiddle or violin on their thorax. Well, that would be a good way to tell whether or not it is a brown recluse, but unfortunately, not every brown recluse has this marking. Because it was once thought that this marking was on all brown recluses, they are also known as the violin spider, the fiddle-back spider, and the brown spider.
This extremely venomous spider is found in twenty-five states of the United States, but no matter where you live, it is a good idea to learn how to recognize one of these spiders. They have been found in places they don't normally live because they have been transported there through boxed shipping crates.
While the bite of this spider is often painless - you may feel it as a pinprick - the aftereffects of it are anything but pain free. The good news is that this spider usually only bites when it feels it is threatened or in danger. Within only eight hours of being bitten, the victim may be in agony. The venom of the brown recluse is necrotic. This means that it kills a certain amount of skin tissue around the area where the bite was inflicted. The skin tissue is literally eaten away, and a hideous open sore is left.
Staph infections can cause similar looking lesions on the body, as can the bite of a few other spiders, such as the yellow sac.
The bite of the brown recluse has the potential to be lethal. On the other hand, it could also be extremely mild or have absolutely no effect on the victim. A lot depends on how much venom the spider releases with its bite. At first, a small white blister appears where the bite was made. As time goes on, it slowly becomes red and increases in size. An ulcer normally develops. It can be as small as a thumbnail or as large as an adult's hand. It even has the potential to turn into gangrene. The wound heals slowly, at times taking up to several months.
How could this poisonous spider be of use to you in your writing? How could the brown recluse be used as a murder weapon? Well, you could always have the character planning the murder to capture a few or more of these nasty little creatures, place them in the area of his or her intended victim, and hope for the best. Then your would-be-killer would have to cross his fingers and hope the intended victim would be bitten and have an unhealthy dose of venom injected.
I'm not sure if this is actually done, but remember, you are writing fiction. The intended killer could have possession of some brown recluse venom. He could place this venom in something that the intended victim would be sure to consume. Or if your murderer were a doctor and the intended victim a patient, he could inject it straight into the victim, along with any other medications he may be taking.
This spider normally does not attack humans, and usually won't bite unless threatened, but who says that is the way it has to be in your story? The brown recluse you write about could be a horrifying creature, one who attacks anyone he/she sees. It could terrorize entire communities.
You could take it a bit further even. By some strange happening, your brown recluse could be endowed with human knowledge and ambition. And she could be maniacal, vengeful, and able to read minds. Want to write a story that will give people nightmares? Could you write a story that a person who is afraid of spiders won't want to read, but one that they feel compelled to read?
A lot of people have arachnophobia. While some only have a mild case of it, others have it so bad that they don't even want to hear spiders mentioned. What effect would a talking spider, one that wasn't very nice, have on them?
Or your brown recluse could also be a person, one who murders people and makes it appear that they were bitten by the spider this individual is named after.
For practice, why not see how many storylines you can think of that use the brown recluse spider and its poisonous effects on those it bites?
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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