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Recluse spiders
Brown recluse spider
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae
Superfamily: Scytodoidea
Family: Sicariidae
Keyserling, 1880


2 genera, 122 species

The spider family Sicariidae is a family of venomous spiders known for their necrotic venom. The members of this family, like most Haplogynae, have only six eyes, rather than eight (as is the norm for spiders). The family consists of two genera, Loxosceles and Sicarius, and 122 species [1]. Well known spiders in this family include the brown recluse spider and the six-eyed sand spider.


Habitat and appearance

The genus Loxosceles, commonly known as recluse spiders or violin spiders, is distributed nearly worldwide in warmer areas. The genus Sicarius, or six-eyed crab spiders, are desert spiders that live in the Southern Hemisphere, in (South America and Africa), known primarily for their self-burying behavior. All have six eyes arranged in three groups of two (diads) and the violin spiders are usually brownish with a darker brown characteristic violin marking on the cephalothorax. Sicarius resembles the crab spiders of the family Thomisidae and lacks this marking. Individual Sicarius can live for as much as 15 years, which makes these among the longest-lived araneomorphae spiders (some tarantulas can live well over 20-30 years.) Most Loxosceles can live for one and a half to two years. Members of both genera can live for very long times without food or water.

Medical significance

Both genera have potent tissue-destroying venoms containing the dermonecrotic agent, sphingomyelinase D, which is otherwise found only in a few pathogenic bacteria. Thus, the venom of Sicariidae is highly necrotic in effect, capable of causing lesions (open sores) as large as a US quarter. The wounds take a long time to heal and may require skin grafts. If these open wounds get infected there can be serious consequences. Rarely, the venom is carried by the blood stream to internal organs causing systemic effects. The Chilean recluse (Loxosceles laeta), along with the African species of Sicarius, reportedly have a more potent venom, which results in systemic involvement more often. [2]



  1. ^ World Spider Catalog
  2. ^ Greta J. Binford and Michael A. Wells, "The phylogenetic distribution of sphingomyelinase D activity in venoms of Haplogyne spiders", Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B 135 (2003) 25–33

See also

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Classis: Arachnida
Ordo: Araneae
Subordo: Opisthothelae
Infraordo: Araneomorphae
Taxon: Neocribellatae
Series: Haplogynae
Superfamilia: Scytodoidea
Familia: Sicariidae
Genera: Loxosceles - Sicarius


Sicariidae Keyserling, 1880


  • Platnick, N. I. 2008. The World Spider Catalog, version 9.0. American Museum of Natural History. [1]

Vernacular names

한국어: 실거미과
日本語: イトグモ科
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Sicariidae on Wikimedia Commons.


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