One of the more dangerous pests in the southern portion of the United States is the brown recluse spider.
These spiders are often found in houses and may co-exist with humans quietly; however, their bites have the potential to cause serious health problems. Aside from being very painful, the bites can sometimes cause necrotic skin lesions and other issues.
Brown recluse spiders are much like their name, in that they are reclusive and generally stay hidden from sight. Humans are most likely to come in contact with them when disturbing spaces that have been left undisturbed for some time.
Brown Recluse Spider Habitat
Brown recluse spiders like to hide in places where they won’t be disturbed. Inside a building, these places often include beneath boards, in piles of clutter or junk, in cluttered storage spaces or closets, as well as garages, attics and crawl spaces.
Brown recluse spiders do not build webs consistently, but instead hunt mostly on the ground. When they do build webs, it is generally to lay their eggs. The webs can be found in dark corners, inside boxes or beneath items.
These spiders are nocturnal, meaning they only emerge at night to hunt for insects. Brown recluse spiders are lazy hunters as well, often looking for dead or dying insects.
Identifying Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders are fairly easy to identify, even for those who aren’t experts. They are light brown and sometimes grayish, with slim legs that extend to cover an area about the size of a quarter, but occasionally as big as a half dollar.
They have two main markings that help identify them over other similar spiders. They have a semicircular cluster of six eyes, where most spiders have eight. They also have a dark marking on the front of their body that looks like a violin.
Sometimes brown recluses are confused with wolf spiders, but the aforementioned markings should distinguish them. Brown recluses are generally found in the spring, which isn’t surprising considering that is often when people begin cleaning out dark, cluttered areas.
How to Avoid Brown Recluse Spiders
As previously mentioned, spring cleaning tends to be a time when people stumble upon brown recluse spiders, as boxes get moved and cluttered spaces get cleaned out.
Brown recluse spiders are not particularly aggressive but will obviously bite if trapped or touched. As a result, it’s best to use gloves when cleaning out cluttered areas, and to move things slowly and carefully, allowing spiders to escape if necessary.
It’s also important to realize that recluse spiders make their homes in places with abundant prey. If there are several spiders in a house, it’s likely due to the presence of a number of insects. Make sure to vacuum up dead insects and use sanitary practices to keep prey like silverfish and cockroaches out.
Eliminating prey and areas where these spiders like to hide will go a long way towards keeping their numbers down and thus avoid the risk of an infestation.