One of the more frequently asked question that we get called about at Barrier is about the Brown Recluse Spider, specifically people ask if we have them in the Boise area. The short answer is ‘no.’ The long answer is still ‘no,’ but is a little longer. (Less frequently asked questions include: “What’s your favorite color” or “Is Frank there?”)
Brown Recluse Spiders do not live naturally in Idaho. Their natural distribution in the United States is limited to the South-Central states, pictured below:
This doesn’t mean however that a Brown Recluse has never stepped foot (legs) in Idaho. Pests historically have done their fair share of hitchhiking, via luggage, trucks, & shipping. It just means they don’t naturally live and reproduce here. There are many possible reasons for this: They don’t like cooler temperatures, their normal diet of small insects and other spiders is more readily available in the South-Central part of the States, and so forth.
Regardless of the reason, there isn’t an established population of Brown Recluses in Idaho, to date.
One reason why people think that Brown Recluses live in Idaho is that Brown Recluses look like other spiders! In the same way you look like your cousin Eddy, they are also often confused with other spiders: Hobo Spiders (which we do have in the Boise area), Wolf Spiders (we also have these), Huntsman Spiders, or many others.
Medical Professionals in the Boise area often also make this same mistake. Several times we have heard of a doctor or a nurse or physician’s assistant make a ‘diagnosis’ that an alleged bite was definitely from a Brown Recluse Spider. Unfortunately, without a specimen, it is IMPOSSIBLE to make a diagnosis of this sort. Without a microscope, you cannot positively identify a Brown Recluse Spider. According to our friend & Arachnologist Rod Crawford, you even have to cut open a female Brown Recluse to get a positive I.D. (source).
Now you are armed with Brown Recluse information, you will be able to dispel the myth that these spiders live in the Boise area. Your friends will be in awe, your knowledge lauded, and your popularity will soar. Lets be honest. More likely than not, they will will whisper behind your back, “what’s with spider nerd over there?” Ah well. Genius has always been lonely.