Brown recluse spiders, while found primarily in the southern and southeastern United States, have also been known to migrate to other areas of the country. They generally live and thrive in homes and buildings.
True to their name, they prefer to be “reclusive,” and to hide in out-of-the-way places in households such as crawl spaces, attics, garages and cellars. The brown recluse spider can inflict a serious and painful wound with its bite, which is venomous, sometimes requiring medical attention.
While brown recluse spiders prefer to dwell outdoors under woodpiles or other organic debris, some have been found adapting to the human environment by living and thriving indoors in households, as well as in sheds and barns. Typically, they hunt for their prey at night.
Brown recluse spiders are known by their species name Loxosceles reclusa. The brown recluse is about one-half inch in size, and it is further distinguished by having six eyes instead of the usual eight eyes found in most spiders. The brown recluse web is usually not produced in open areas where it can be easily identified. The brown recluse is a fast runner and will likely evade pursuit if seen within a household.
Brown recluse spiders range in color from a light tan to a dark brown, with no distinguishing stripes or bands. Their long thin legs have a silky appearance to them due to fine hairs that grow along the entire length. Sometimes referred to as the “violin” or “fiddleback,” the brown recluse spider has a distinguishing violin-shaped marking on its dorsum.
The brown recluse is often mistaken with the wolf spider, of which there are over 200 species living in the U.S. However, wolf spiders lack the “fiddle shape” that is a characteristic of the brown recluse and have distinguishing stripes and/or bands on their bodies and legs.
Though brown recluse spiders are widely feared by many people, they’re rarely aggressive and rarely bite. And not only do they rarely bite, but people often mistake bites from various insects or other skin irritants as brown recluse bites.
There are some things that can help you determine whether or not you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider, including:
Seeing the spider
Feeling the spider bite you
Symptoms to look for
What the area around the bite looks like
You can learn more here.
If you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, the Mayo clinic recommends the following treatment:
Clean the bite with mild soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment.
Apply a cool compress to the bite to help reduce pain and swelling.
If the bite is on the arm or leg, elevate it.
Take over-the-counter medications as needed.
Observe the bite for signs of infection. You may need to consult your doctor if the bite becomes infected.
Because brown recluse spiders have been known to hide in boxes, infestations often occur when these items are moved from one location to another and later stored in dark, damp places within the home. Once brown recluse spiders have established themselves, they are difficult to control. They can increase their numbers to large populations in short periods of time.
When brown recluses bite a human, the bites they administer are venomous. How a person is effected by a brown recluse bite is largely dependent on how much venom was injected and how the person reacts, since different people may have different reactions. See above for proper treatment of bites.
Brown recluse spiders typically make their home in secluded areas of the house and property, in cracks and crevices that have not been sealed or caulked, and in areas where they cannot be observed during their nocturnal wanderings in search of prey. They have been known to make their homes in sheds, crawl spaces, fireplaces, closets and behind furnaces.
Since brown recluse spiders are known to populate in aforementioned areas of the house and shed, it is recommended these areas be properly sealed to help prevent an infestation.
Storing household items in sealed plastic containers can be effective protection for your belongings. Other methods for helping keep a brown recluse infestation away include:
Using weather-stripping around windows and window frames
Applying plastic wood filler or wood adhesive to seal cracks in floorboards
Routinely vacuuming areas where there are noticeable webs or spider activity
Some homeowners use “sticky traps” to help catch spiders. However, if the brown recluse infestation is large, numerous traps are needed and must be monitored constantly and replaced as needed.
Homeowners should be warned that completely removing an infestation of brown recluse spiders may take several months if undertaken without professional intervention, and DIY methods often fail.
The best method for brown recluse control and removal is to contact a trained pest control professional.
A trained Terminix technician will conduct a complete inspection of your home’s interior and exterior to properly identify the spiders you’re dealing with and the best treatment solution. Learn more about how Terminix can help today.