Brown Recluse Spider
The bare mention of the Brown Recluse strikes fear. It should. Along with the Black Widow, the Brown Recluse is one of only two spiders in North America whose bite can be dangerous to humans. Their venom is much more toxic than a rattlesnake. Fortunately they do not inject nearly as much venom when they bite. More about the seriousness of the Brown Recluse’s bite later.
How To Tell When It’s A Brown Recluse
Most people can’t readily identify a Brown Recluse from a regular brown spider. It has two distinguishing features. ONE. Unlike most spiders which have eight eyes, a Brown Recluse has only six eyes that are arranged in three pairs. TWO. The adult recluse is most identifiable by its violin-shaped mark on its back, behind its eyes. That’s why it is also nick-named a brown fiddler, violin spider or fiddleback spider. Caution however because a young Brown Recluse may not have yet developed the violin mark.
A typical adult is about the size of a quarter with outstretched legs. Its color can range from cream-colored to dark brown. The head area and its abdomen are usually different colors of gray but the violin mark will be a darker color. Unlike most spiders, the legs of the Brown Recluse are not spiny.
Bad News For Mid-Southern States
The range of the Brown Recluse is the mid-southern states. Primarily Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Northeastern Georgia, Eastern Nebraska, and the southern portions of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. The range can touch the edges of states that border the above.
The rest of the nation can rest a bit easier since the Brown Recluse does not inhabit other states. However, the Brown Recluse has been known to reach other states as passengers in luggage and shipments of plants. When you travel to states in its territorial range, always keep your luggage tightly closed and any dirty laundry in tightly sealed plastic bags. You do not want to carry this hitchhiker home with you.
Habitats, Prey & Breeding
Brown Recluse. It’s an appropriate name. They are brown and reclusive. They eat insects. So if you want to keep them out of your home, take away their food supply. The Brown Recluse is nocturnal. They spend their day hiding and start roaming at night after everyone is usually asleep. Your home could be infested with Brown Recluse spiders and you may not even know it. Although they build web nests, they typically only use them to hide. The male recluse is a wandering
hunter whereas the female generally waits for unsuspecting insects to wander by and then she attacks.
Although the recluse will enter homes through openings, they most frequently are transported inside cardboard boxes and furniture items since they are attracted to wood and cardboard. Once arriving in your home they will seek those type pf hiding places to build nests. They particularly love cardboard boxes stored under beds as well as secluded crawl spaces, attics, basements and wall voids.
Just one female can eventually infest an entire home. Here’s why. A female recluse only needs to mate once in her lifetime and can still continue to produce
young without needing a male for egg fertilization. This is why you must inspect any anything you transport into your home. That includes checking your luggage when returning home from another city. Once they are in your home in large numbers, they will be difficult to eliminate.
The Bite of the Venomous Brown Recluse
You should never touch any spider yet alone this bad boy. The Brown Recluse Spider is not aggressive towards people and prefers to run rather than bite. They
are however very venomous with a bite that can cause some serious disfiguring necrotic wounds. that destroy tissue. Although serious injury has been greatly
exaggerated, their bite can be of concern, particularly with infants and those with challenged immune systems. Most bites happen when the recluse is trapped
between skin and clothing or bed linens. This why you should never store clothing items in cardboard boxes under your bed.
Often when bitten, the Brown Recluse will not inject much venom. It is interesting that a male recluse possesses half of the venom than that of a female recluse and therefore will deliver a less serious bite. Although rare, there have been reported deaths from the bite of the Brown Recluse. If you suspect being bitten, look for two puncture wounds from the fangs of the spider. Swelling and redness will appear around the wound. Pain, fever and nausea will occur. If you or another person has been bitten by a Brown Recluse, always seek medical attention. If at all possible, kill and collect the spider for identification at the emergency room.
Preventing Brown Recluse Spider Bites
- Shake out clothing before dressing.
- Shake and inspect shoes before use.
- Remove cardboard storage boxes from beneath beds.
- Move your bed about 3 inches from walls.
- When spring house cleaning, wear gloves.
- When handling cardboard boxes, wear gloves.
- Wear gloves when handling firewood, lumber and rocks.
- Always tape-seal cardboard boxes used for storage.