It's officially confirmed: There's a new spider in southwest Kansas

Photos

Mark Reagan

Amanda Kasiska holds up a jar Thursday that contains two Brown Widow spiders. One of them bit her. Dodge City Community College instructor Richard Ford is 90 percent sure they are Brown Widows, which will be the second and third ever identified in Kansas.

  

Yellow Pages

By Mark Reagan
Posted Aug 12, 2011 @ 04:44 PM
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There's a new pest in town. And it's exotic and creepy.
    Amanda Kasiska felt a sharp pain on her leg Monday, like a needle shooting into her skin. She immediately brushed her leg off with her hand. And what she saw after that motion was downright creepy.
    A spider that looked exactly like a black widow was on the floor — except this arachnid was brown. So she caught the spider, put it in a jar and set up an appointment with Richard Ford, a science instructor at Dodge City Community College. Then Kasiska found a second brown spider before visiting with Ford. (Her leg is fine, by the way.)
    When Kasiska met Ford in DC3's Math and Science building Thursday, Ford said her find looked an awful lot like a black widow — even though it was brown.
    "I examined the spiders under a microscope (after killing them), and I am 90 percent sure they are the brown black widow," Ford said Friday.
    These are the second and third brown widows identified in Kansas. And all the research was done at DC3.
    The first brown widow was removed Aug. 9 from a home in Haysville, according to KWCH.
    However, there is a chance the brown widows are still just black widows — albeit small ones.
    "The reason that there's that 10 percent, is because they (the spiders) are juveniles and juvenile spiders have various colorations," Ford said.
    But the two specimens Kasiska provided have the tell-tale alternating orange and black stripes on their legs designating them as brown widows. The clincher for identification, though, are the spiders' egg sacs.
    "The egg sac is white, and it's round and it has spines on it," Ford said. "It's the only spider that has spines on the egg sac."
    Kasiska said Ford asked her to see if she can find any egg sacs, which are the size of a pinhead, before she calls an exterminator.

How'd they get here?
    With only three brown widows being identified in Kansas, it raised the question of where the tiny spiders came from.
    Ford said his research indicates the spiders originated in southern Africa and were first identified in Florida in 2000.
    "It has now migrated across the United States all the way to California. And it's up in Minnesota, too," he said. "They are also in Japan and all the way up to East Coast."
    So how did the spiders make it all the way from southern Africa to Florida and throughout the United States?
    The most plausible culprit is a box of fruit. While there is no way to be certain that a box of fruit transported the spiders, it does make sense.
    "I would guess they came from Florida (to Kansas) in a fruit box, but that's pure speculation," Ford said. "But they could have been easily fastened into the stem of any fruit that came from Florida. They could be very small and totally be never identified by any inspectors — plus the fact that not every piece of fruit is inspected. Or they could have just been in the box."
    Thankfully, the spiders don't seem to be carrying any exotic diseases.
    "Evidently the one that bit Amanda didn't cause an infection because she had a very slight redness on her leg," Ford said. "That was almost a week ago, so no infection."
       
Reach Mark Reagan at (620) 408-9931 or email him at mark.reagan@dodgeglobe.com.

There's a new pest in town. And it's exotic and creepy.
    Amanda Kasiska felt a sharp pain on her leg Monday, like a needle shooting into her skin. She immediately brushed her leg off with her hand. And what she saw after that motion was downright creepy.
    A spider that looked exactly like a black widow was on the floor — except this arachnid was brown. So she caught the spider, put it in a jar and set up an appointment with Richard Ford, a science instructor at Dodge City Community College. Then Kasiska found a second brown spider before visiting with Ford. (Her leg is fine, by the way.)
    When Kasiska met Ford in DC3's Math and Science building Thursday, Ford said her find looked an awful lot like a black widow — even though it was brown.
    "I examined the spiders under a microscope (after killing them), and I am 90 percent sure they are the brown black widow," Ford said Friday.
    These are the second and third brown widows identified in Kansas. And all the research was done at DC3.
    The first brown widow was removed Aug. 9 from a home in Haysville, according to KWCH.
    However, there is a chance the brown widows are still just black widows — albeit small ones.
    "The reason that there's that 10 percent, is because they (the spiders) are juveniles and juvenile spiders have various colorations," Ford said.
    But the two specimens Kasiska provided have the tell-tale alternating orange and black stripes on their legs designating them as brown widows. The clincher for identification, though, are the spiders' egg sacs.
    "The egg sac is white, and it's round and it has spines on it," Ford said. "It's the only spider that has spines on the egg sac."
    Kasiska said Ford asked her to see if she can find any egg sacs, which are the size of a pinhead, before she calls an exterminator.

How'd they get here?
    With only three brown widows being identified in Kansas, it raised the question of where the tiny spiders came from.
    Ford said his research indicates the spiders originated in southern Africa and were first identified in Florida in 2000.
    "It has now migrated across the United States all the way to California. And it's up in Minnesota, too," he said. "They are also in Japan and all the way up to East Coast."
    So how did the spiders make it all the way from southern Africa to Florida and throughout the United States?
    The most plausible culprit is a box of fruit. While there is no way to be certain that a box of fruit transported the spiders, it does make sense.
    "I would guess they came from Florida (to Kansas) in a fruit box, but that's pure speculation," Ford said. "But they could have been easily fastened into the stem of any fruit that came from Florida. They could be very small and totally be never identified by any inspectors — plus the fact that not every piece of fruit is inspected. Or they could have just been in the box."
    Thankfully, the spiders don't seem to be carrying any exotic diseases.
    "Evidently the one that bit Amanda didn't cause an infection because she had a very slight redness on her leg," Ford said. "That was almost a week ago, so no infection."
       
Reach Mark Reagan at (620) 408-9931 or email him at mark.reagan@dodgeglobe.com.

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