Brown recluse spiders, or Loxosceles reclusa, belong to a family including eleven indigenous US species and are also, due to a marking on their backs, known as violin or fiddle-back spiders. Because other spider family members have a similar marking, the violin shape isn’t the brown recluse’s most distinguishing feature. The thing that sets the brown recluse apart from other violin marked spiders is that brown recluse spiders only have six eyes instead of eight.
Chocolate brown/tan and measuring about .25 inches with a leg span of about 1 inch, the brown recluse’s reputation is a lot larger than its actual physical size. Brown recluse spiders mate in June or July at which time the females deposit 20 to 50 eggs, in a spherical-shaped case. Over their two-year life spans, female brown recluse spiders deposit 2 to 5 batches of eggs.
Well established in the South and Mid-west, brown recluse habitats are expanding into northern areas
Established in mid-western and southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, brown recluse spiders make the occasional appearances in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wyoming. Although brown recluse spiders are rare in these areas, they may be transported in cargo boxes and similar items from a locale where brown recluses are common.
Brown recluse bites dangerous, with physical damage
Living in caves and rodent burrows in the wild, brown recluse spiders can become pests when they take up residency in attics, under furniture in storage areas, in cracks and walls, as well as in woodpiles and other yard debris. Non-aggressive by nature, brown recluse spiders avoid humans, making their homes in dark, undisturbed places. Brown recluse spiders only bite humans as a defense when trapped or threatened. Typically this happens when someone is searching for things in an attic, moving stored items, or cleaning up woodpiles and other yard debris. Accidentally blundering into their nesting areas, humans can fall victim to brown recluse bites.
Initial bite not painful but may cause flu-like symptoms and in rare cases, death
While the initial bite from a brown recluse isn’t seriously painful, no more than a stinging sensation in most cases, brown recluse spiders inject a venom that can cause systemic flu-like symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue, nausea, chills, fever, joint pain and other more serious symptoms, such as jaundice, bloody urine and convulsions leading to death in rare cases.
Brown recluse venom contains tissue-killing neurotoxins
Because brown recluse venom contains cytotoxic neurotoxins, brown recluse bites can cause necrotic lesions that take a long time to heal. Generally, around seven hours after a brown recluse bite occurs, a small blister appears on the skin that will continue to grow. Depending on the amount of venom injected, a brown recluse wound could be as small as a dime or as large as 8 inches in diameter.
Destroying the blood vessel walls around the bite site, the tissue surrounding the bite site turns black and eventually sloughs off. Decayed tissue around the bite site can leave deep depressions in the skin and cause scar tissue to form, with healing often taking six to eight weeks or as long as a year in some cases. Due to the lengthy healing process, victims risk secondary infections as well.
Other cases of mistaken identities
Brown, medium in size with chevron patterns on their abdomens, hobo spiders, from Western Europe were introduced to the Pacific Northwest some time before the 1930s via Seattle’s international port. Unlike brown recluse spiders that naturally avoid humans, hobo spiders have been spotted running across floors in homes.
Also, many bites previously attributed to brown recluse spiders are now being acknowledged as hobo spider bites. Although hobo spiders are now taking the heat for causing the most cases of serious venomous bites in the Northwest, in many cases, hobo spider bites do not result in necrotic lesions as no venom is injected into the skin.
Ways to get rid of Brown Recluse Spiders
While brown recluse spiders aren’t known for large infestations by definition, as they tend to live in out-of-the-way places, away from other living beings, should you see more than one spider per week, you may want to contact a trusted pest control company.
The best way to avoid brown recluse spiders in your home and on your property is to make your home unattractive to all spiders and other pests, as well. Preventive measures include:
- Excluding spiders and their prey by sealing or caulking all cracks and crevices around the foundation of your home and any points of entry in your home.
- Be careful where you are reaching with your hands, so you don’t come in contact with one accidentally.
- Eliminating all clutter from the interior and the exterior of your home.
- Cleaning storage areas and attics regularly.
- Regularly vacuuming and sweeping, as well as keeping all food items stored properly and food prep and dining areas wiped down and all food contained or deposited in closed trash containers.
- Removing all debris, dense vegetation and woodpiles from the exterior of your home.
Cut to the Chase: Contact Truly Nolen
Cut to the chase and contact your local Truly Nolen location to ask about our Four Seasons approach to pest control. Convenient scheduling and our innovative Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system use many different techniques and materials to keep your home pest free all year-round. Contact Truly Nolen for a free pest inspection today!