For years, entomologists, pest control professionals, and physicians have claimed that the highly venomous and potentially deadly brown recluse spider species can be found within the state of Georgia. This claim has never been hard to believe, as Georgia doctors frequently treat brown recluse envenomation symptoms after identifying bites sustained by residents of the state. However, Nancy Hinkle, an entomologist at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is one of many experts now claiming that brown recluse spiders are extremely rare in Georgia, and they cannot be found in most urban and suburban areas in the state.
Hinkle states that doctors all over the country have been in the habit of mistaking harmless spider bites and even MRSA skin infections for brown recluse bites. Furthermore, a plethora of UGA scientists are backing up Hinkles claim by noting that only 58 confirmed brown recluse spider species have been found within Georgia since researchers began collecting specimens decades ago. Scientists in the state also claim that a very small number of brown recluse specimens have only been collected from 26 out of Georgia’s 159 counties. Despite these claims, brown recluse spiders have been positively identified as the species responsible for having established numerous sizable infestations within homes throughout the state over the years.
During the fall of 2018, a resident of Paulding County fell victim to an extensive brown recluse infestation within her home where she counted more than 100 specimens skittering about within every room of her home. Pest control professionals even seemed convinced that the resident and her family had been living within a home infested by the notorious spiders, as they had to carry out a painstaking 13,000 dollar fumigation treatment to rid the arachnids from her home. Another incident several years ago saw a Tennessee woman sustain a brown recluse bite while staying within a Georgia hotel, and she feels certain the spider species responsible for the bite was, indeed, a brown recluse due to the characteristic necrotizing infection that developed at the site of the bite wound. The bite victim’s doctors are also convinced the spider culprit was a brown recluse, as they performed a series of operations on the woman over the span of many months in order to save her leg from amputation. While several anecdotal reports describe brown recluse infestations and bites as occurring in Georgia, the objective scientific evidence indicating their relative rarity in Georgia is hard to deny. In any case, brown recluse spiders can be found in certain areas of Georgia, and while infestations in the state are unlikely, they can occur.
Do you believe that you have encountered a brown recluse in Georgia?