Brown Recluse Spiders
While several kinds of spiders live in and around homes and structures here in Texas, most are not dangerous; in fact, many are helpful because they feed upon other nuisance insects, like mosquitos, flies, and other insects pests. But what about the infamous and potentially dangerous Brown Recluse, also known as the ‘violin’ or ‘fiddle back’ spider, because of the violin-shaped marking?
Distribution…Do Brown Recluses Live Near Me?
While there is some contention about the range of the Brown Recluse spider, it is generally accepted that the Brown Recluse Range includes the majority of Oklahoma and Kansas, parts of Iowa and Nebraska, ranging into Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, The Carolina’s, the panhandle of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, some of New Mexico, and finally Texas.
It may be easier to describe where Brown Recluse Spiders don’t live in Texas. You can almost create a divider starting south of Corpus Christi, going southwest of San Antonio and Uvalde to just South of Lubbock near the Midland/Odessa area. Far West Texas’s drier, more arid climate isn’t very hospitable for these spiders.
We must consider that all insects’ range will vary with weather or how some pests hitchhike to a non-native area in boxes or furnishings, but infestations seldom become established.
Habits and Development
Brown Recluses usually live outside under rocks, logs, woodpiles, or in piles of debris where they can shelter. This can include areas around your home or business. However, they are known to climb into shoes and piles of clothing, which is when most bites occur. They are not aggressive but bite when they feel threatened.
They have also well adapted to living indoors with humans. They can survive winters and unbearable summer temperatures in attics, enduring many months without food or water.
The brown recluse hunts at night, seeking insect prey, either alive or dead. It does not employ a web to capture food — suspended webs strung along walls, corners, ceilings, outdoor vegetation, and other exposed areas are almost always associated with other types of spiders. Such webs are often produced in homes by harmless cobwebs or cellar spiders. While sometimes considered a nuisance, spiders like the cobweb or cellar varieties prey upon other pests (including brown recluses) and, in this sense, could be considered beneficial.
At times, brown recluse spiders will be seen during daylight hours crawling on floors, walls, and other exposed surfaces. Such behavior can be triggered by hunger, overcrowding, pesticide application, or other factors.
Infestation levels in homes vary greatly, ranging from one or a few spiders to several hundred.
Brown Recluse Spider Bites and Health Implications
Most bites occur in response to force when a spider is unintentionally trapped against bare skin, like in clothing or in shoes. There have even been instances where people are bitten when they roll over a Brown Recluse in bed. Other bites occur while moving stored items or putting on a piece of clothing that a spider has chosen for its daytime retreat.
Severe reactions to venom are more common in younger and older populations and people with existing comorbidities. BUGCO® Pest Control cannot diagnose bites, this should be left to medical professionals, and if you think you have been bitten, you seek medical care right away.
According to VeryWellHealth, many medical conditions look similar to a brown recluse bite, including bacterial and fungal infections, diabetic and pressure ulcers, and gangrene. Several misdiagnoses have occurred from outbreaks of Staph infections.
This bacterium produces painful skin lesions that resemble Brown Recluse bites. Staph infections are common and widespread in close living quarters such as medical facilities, nursing homes, military quarters, and county and state correctional facilities.
If you believe you have been bitten by a Brown Recluse and can safely get a picture of the spider or even the spider itself in a plastic bag, you can have it identified by an entomologist.
Suspected bites occurring outside the normal distribution range, while not impossible, is rare; as discussed above, they may hitchhike in dry goods, or other factors may play a role.
Where They Hide
Reducing harborage sites on your property provides fewer places for the pests to hide and can increase the effectiveness of BUGCO® Pest Control’s treatments. Common hiding places include
• Cracks and crevices,
• In the corners of covered porches,
• Wood piles.
• Debris piles,
• Behind walls and wall voids
• Pier and Beam’s foundations crawl spaces
And if they have gotten inside with you, some areas that you want to watch out for are
• Beneath beds and furniture,
• In closets,
• In clothing,
• In shoes,
• In boxed items,
• Around the plumbing in the bathroom and kitchen (water sources)
If you have reason to believe that there are Brown Recluses in or around your home, wear long sleeves and gloves to prevent yourself from being bitten. Brown recluse spiders live above suspended ceilings, behind baseboards and woodwork, and within ducts and registers.
Thorough inspections are needed to detect and treat hidden infestations.
The spiders may be outdoors in barns, sheds, woodpiles, and under anything lying on the ground. They also commonly reside behind shutters. Migration indoors can be reduced by moving firewood, building materials, and debris away from foundations. Sealing cracks and holes in a building’s exterior can help keep these and other pests outdoors.
Some common entry points for brown recluse spiders include gaps under doors, vents, and utility penetrations, beneath the bottommost edge of the siding, and where eaves and soffits meet the sides of buildings. Outdoor populations of brown recluse spiders are less common in the northern portions of its range.
Brown recluse spider elimination will often require the use of insecticides. Especially the adult females, which stay hidden more so than male spiders. Insecticides should be applied by a professional. BUGCO® Pest Control offers a wide variety of treatment options to help reduce and control the spider population around your home and can help to identify potential problem areas.
Brown recluse spiders are challenging to eradicate, primarily because of their secretive habits. Virtually any dark, undisturbed area can serve as harborage, and many such places occur within buildings. Because of this (and the potential health threat), treatment is best performed by professionals.
Exclusion, Avoiding Bites
While you have a professional pest control specialist at BUGCO® Pest Control, there are other measures you can take or hire someone to assist with. Some of the simplest fixes are ensuring your home or business is properly sealed.
Shake your shoes out before slipping your feet in. Remove excess clutter and store seldom-used items in plastic storage containers. There may be some comfort in knowing that bites are rare, even in homes where brown recluses are common.
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