Well hellooooooo summer!! So lovely of you to arrive in time for Christmas, with your 32 degrees of breezeless sunshine and endless blue skies. What’s that you say? It’s going to be a hot one this year?! Thanks so much!
I also take this moment to thank you in advance for the swarm of Chilean Recluse Spiders, locally known as the Araña de Rincón, that will likely start popping up on my bedroom walls.
There is nothing quite like settling down for bed with a quick vacuum and bed shake down. Or the quick “is my shoe empty” check that naturally comes first before rushing out the door late for an appointment. Summer is when all the delightful little eggs start hatching from their cocoons of dirty fluff (spotted happening live on my sons wall – lucky us!). I have lived in a recluse sanctuary for nearly three years now, and every summer its the same old story. Spider on the shower curtain? Check. Spider crawling past head while reading Pride and Prejudice? Check. Spider crawling out of the bathroom sink? Check. Spider behind baby’s bed? Double check. Actually triple. Make that times twenty (his room is a breeding ground apparently).
Last year it got so bad I started having trouble sleeping and instead started prowling Emilio’s room in the middle of the night with a torch. Like a nutty person I know but it was honestly that bad. Thanks to the Chilean Recluse Spider we don’t have any other spiders in our house because they eat them all, just like all the moths. They are so hungry that the lady even tries to eat the male when they have sex. Delightful. Recluses are the defintion of hunters: they don’t even build webs to catch their unsuspecting prey, they just prowl about at night using 3 pairs of unusually positioned eyes (a beautiful characteristic – have a look). In winter they can go months without eating and their favorite places to hang out appears to be in our bathroom and in the corners of our walls (thank you Luis for never put up skirting boards). They love to hide in the corners where walls meet – especially the babies which are teeny tiny – and down the sides of beds. In fact one of the best tips I can tell you is to move your bed away from the wall!
I constantly read about this Rincon Test, where you bang about to see if the spider you have spotted runs away at lightning speed. In my experience this is just ridiculous because all spiders start to move once you wave a shoe above its head. They don’t always but its true that once they go, they really do GO! Once you have seen one you can recognize them easily: fat body, long legs, usually brown not black, uniquely placed eyes, violin shape. There is really no other similar spider that you are likely to find indoors in Santiago – particularly as they love urban environments and are believed to call 9 out of 10 Santiago homes, home. They don’t always move at night either – if they are hungry they will hunt, simple as that!
Here’s an interesting piece of information:
“Recluse spiders were the first spider group to be recognized as a causative agent of the disease state now known as necrotic arachnidism, and this condition, when caused by a recluse spider, is properly termed loxoscelism. Loxoscelism was first recognized in 1872 when Chilean physicians linked a peculiar skin lesion known as the ‘gangrenous spot of Chile’ “
Time to introduce the Arana Tigre, or Tiger Spider. This wee fella has a skinny, stripey body and really long legs with what looks like dotty joints. There is no possible way to mistake the Tiger Spider for a Chilean Recluse Spider – none whatsover! This spider is also known as the Long-Legged Spider or Spitting Spider, thanks to a) it’s long legs and b) its method of hunting the Recluse by projectile sticky webs. The Tiger is the only known predator of the Chilean Recluse spider, which bizaarely is a distant cousin on the spider family tree. Universidad de Chile found out something very interesting: only 50% of encounters between Recluse and Tiger spiders result in an attack and only 75% of Tiger Spiders receive the title of winner, something which puts the Tigers glowing reputation into doubt. They can’t bite humans though so its worth keeping them around if you find one. Here’s another interesting fact for the spider lovers: the Tiger has connected poison and silk glands thus making … poisonous silk!!!
Below are my Golden Rules so that you too can happily (lol) live alongside Chilean Recluse Spiders. I am sure many of you are wonding how we can live like this, and even though I HATE them I do believe that they have a part to play. I also personally prefer to deal with them this way rather than inhaling the aftermath of strong poisons, but for those of you who are suffering there is also the option of fumigation (something I probably would consider if I had a newborn baby and new mummy paranoia!). I have also learnt that you can lay down sticky board traps that catch whatever crawls over them, and for the naturally inclined apparently spiders hate vinegar and diatomaceous earth.
The Golden Rules:
Shake bedding before jumping into bed
Move beds away from walls
Check towels, shoes and clothes before using
Don’t leave clothes on the floor
Check behind pillows and cushions
Don’t kill the good guys (Tiger Spiders)
If you believe that you have been bitten by a spider, please make your way promptly to the nearest hospital with (if at all possible) the spider in question. To keep track of the bite, you can draw around the infected area to monitor changes in size and shape. The antedote is believed to work up to the first six hours after contact, but before you panic, not all bites will result in a reaction. Expect to be monitors for up to 72 hours and you may require hospitalization.
Emergency Numbers: Ambulance 131/Fire 132/ police 133
Edit: in the picture with my hand, the spider beside it is NOT whole. The body is not present, only the head. As I am a New Zealander (and not an Australian!) these are not what I would call “small” spiders when fully grown either!