Consider the following a public service announcement:
When I recently saw one of my colleagues limping around, I just assumed he had sprained an ankle. He wishes. In fact, he is recovering from a spider bite. The other night, he saw what he thought was just one of those house spiders, the kind you inevitably get during the summer months. (This reminds me of my mother's catchphrase: Well, it's the summer, which went for anything: "Mom, wasps flew into the house!" Well, it's the summer. "There's a snake in the pool!" Well, it's the summer. "Street gangs are wilding through Central Park!" Well, it's the summer.)
Oh, right, back to the spider. My colleague thought nothing of it as it quickly crawled away. The next morning he awoke to find an abrasion on his leg. Over time it worsened until there appeared a giant red swelling with a black center. Eventually he goes to the hospital and learns he was bitten by a poisonous (though usually nonlethal) spider known as a brown recluse. These guys can be nasty. According to the website eMedicine, bites from a brown recluse "can cause significant cutaneous injury with tissue loss and necrosis. Less frequently, more severe reactions develop, including systemic hemolysis, coagulopathy, renal failure, and, rarely, death." If you're like me, you pretty much stopped reading after the word necrosis.
"Females lay eggs in flattened egg sacs that are frequently attached to the underside of objects," reports greennature.com. "Up to 40 spiderlings may hatch from a single egg sac. A single female may produce up to five egg sacs in a summer." I mention this because my coworker has yet to find the spider, which prefers dark places. A female brown recluse can live up to four years.
As my mother would say...
26 minutes ago