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The Brown Recluse Spider
To the naked eye brown spiders have no hair or distinct markings. They have markings on their back that resembles a fiddle orviolin, but you most likely will not see these markings unless you look very closely. Brown recluse spiders can be a pale translucent tan to almost black depending on the color of their prey.
The brown recluse spider belongs to a group of spiders commonly known as "fiddleback" spiders because of the violin-shaped marking on their heads. The shape and intensity of the fiddle design may vary. A more constant characteristic for identification is the number and pattern of the eyes. Most spiders have four pairs of eyes. The brown recluse has only three pairs of eyes.
Brown Recluse spiders can cause serious health problems. A Brown Spider Loxosceles reclusa, bit Pete at a young age. (His story is at the bottom of the page.) See and read brown spider horror stories, but be aware that there are some very graphic photos of resulting from Brown Spider bites shown on this site.
Spider venoms are a cocktail of many chemicals. Some are toxins, which evolved to kill or immobilize arthropods, like insects, by attacking their nervous systems; others help break down the victim's tissues so the spider can ingest a liquefied meal. Unfortunately, a few of these chemicals can be seriously toxic to humans. A brown recluses' bite is more potent than a rattlesnakes.
Distribution, Habitat, and Habits
It is said that a brown recluse is "reclusive," meaning they like to hide under rocks or couches, in cracks, amongst clutter, or in undisturbed areas like closets. This does not mean that brown recluse spiders are inactive.
In fact, the male recluse spider comes out at night, 1 to 2 hours after dusk to hunt. It is while hunting that brown recluse spiders get into areas most other spiders would not normally inhabit, like clothes and bedding.
Recluse spiders are native to Kansas and Missouri. They prefer living in a house to almost any other type of living condition found in nature. Often they are found in great numbers in houses, where they can dominate the household's ecosystem or in other words brown spiders feeding on brown spiders.
Brown recluse spiders are adaptable. They are active in temperatures ranging between 45°F--110°F, can survive 6 months to a year without food or water, and may live for up to 5 years. They generally are not aggressive. Humans are usually bitten when they inadvertently roll onto a spider during their sleep or put their foot in a seldom worn shoe inhabited by a brown recluse.
People often describe the brown recluse spider web as a "psychotic web." Unlike other well defined spider webs (like the Orb Weaver in Charlotte's Web) they look broken or not intact. It is common to see the brown recluse spider alone in a corner on a wall or ceiling, away from its web.
The average egg sac is about 1/3-inch in diameter, and each sac contains an average of 40 eggs. The brown recluse female can produce up to 300 eggs in her lifetime. Egg sacs are produced during summer, and the female spider will guard the egg sac until the spiderlings emerge. Spiderlings emerge after an incubation period of 24 to 36 days and take between 10 to 12 months to develop into adults.
Brown Spiders bite only if they are being squeezed.
So if a spider is crawling on your body you should not hit it with your bare hands or towards your body. If you do, chances are that before the recluse dies, it will bite you. Instead gently flick it away from you and then kill it with something else besides your hand.
The Bite Symptoms: Don't look unless you dare.
Rashes and Swelling
Necrosis (death of tissue)
In Rare Cases, Death
If you think you've been bitten by a brown recluse spider you should seek medical attention immediately. A brown recluse spider bite can range from mild localized symptoms to very serious systemic symptoms (see below). It has been documented that a brown spider bite can cause renal failure and even death.
Bites occur year-round in heated homes where the temperature remains constant. When a brown recluse bites, it injects cytotoxins that cause tissue death or necrosis of the bitten area.
Many brown recluse bites cause just a little red mark that heals without event. The vast majority of brown recluse bites heal without severe scarring. Initially, the bite may feel like a pinprick or go unnoticed. Some may not be aware of the bite for 2 to 8 hours. Others feel a stinging sensation followed by intense pain. Infrequently, some victims experience general systemic reactions that may include restlessness, generalized itching, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or shock.
Usually a small white blister initially rises at the bite site surrounded by a swollen area. The affected area enlarges and becomes red, and the tissue is hard to the touch for some time. The lesion from a brown recluse spider bite is a dry, blue-gray or blue-white, irregular sinking patch with ragged edges and surrounding redness--termed the "red, white, and blue sign." The lesion usually is 1½ inches by 2¾ inches or smaller.
The bite of the brown recluse spider can result in a painful, deep wound that takes a long time to heal. Fatalities are extremely rare, but bites are most dangerous to young children, the elderly, and those in poor physical condition. When there is a severe reaction to the bite, the site can erupt into a "volcano lesion."
The open wound may range from the size of an adult's thumbnail to the span of a hand. The dead tissue gradually sloughs away, exposing underlying tissues. The sunken, ulcerated sore may heal slowly, taking up to 6 to 8 weeks. Full recovery may take several months and scarring may remain.
Systemic Symptoms: Venom circulates through the blood stream.
In rare instances, the reaction can become systemic in as soon as 6 hours. Those having systemic symptoms are less likely to experience a necrotic wound. In this situation the venom circulates through the bloodstream rather than being localized in the skin.
These symptoms are: Fever, Chills, Sweating, Nausea, Vomiting, Joint Pain, Jaundice, Blood in urine, Seizures, Coma, Kidney Failure, muscle aches and Hemolytic Anemia (a condition where the red blood cells are destroyed).
First Aid Treatment
First aid for someone who has been bitten by a brown recluse spider includes use of an ice pack to prevent or to reduce the swelling in the area where the bite occurred. Cooling the area helps to lessen tissue damage. Also, sanitizing the area with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol helps to prevent infection. Promptly seek medical attention.
If the spider can be found, it should be collected and taken with the patient to the doctor to confirm the identity of the spider involved.
Brown Spider Treatment Programs
When it comes to a treatment recommendation It depends entirely on the structure, the amount of clutter and native population of the brown spiders living in and around the house. People say that there is nothing that can be done about brown spiders. Hard work and diligence can be used to drop down the population of brown spiders in a home.
An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is the best means of control. IPM incorporates all available control methods into a pest management program. Control methods include sanitation, exclusion, and chemical techniques. IPM includes doing a thorough inspection of the premises to locate and destroy all brown recluse spiders inside buildings.
Remove any spiders found by vacuuming. Dispose of the bag outside. Remove webs so that you can monitor potential spider activity in future inspections. Sticky boards placed along walls can also be used for monitoring purposes. Haley Pest control services can use flushing agents as a monitoring tool in an effort to locate breeding areas.
The person conducting the inspection should wear gloves. To prevent spiders from crawling up pant legs, constrict the pants with rubber bands around the ankles. The person may even consider wearing a bee veil when inspecting severely infested homes to prevent spiders from dropping on him or her.
Preventing Spider Bites
Shake out clothing and shoes before getting dressed.
Do not leave clothes on the floor.
Dust and vacuum thoroughly to remove dead insects, spiders, webs, and egg sacs.
Inspect bedding and towels before use.
Wear gloves when handling firewood, lumber, and rocks (be sure to inspect the gloves for spiders before putting them on).
Remove bed skirts or any skirting that touches the floor. Move the bed away from the wall.
Don’t store boxes and other items underneath beds.
Exercise care when handling cardboard boxes (some spiders may inhabit the space under folded cardboard flaps).
Lighten up a room or let sun into the house.
Never blindly reach behind boxes, paintings, furniture, etc..
Wrap duck tape sticky side out around the feet of a bed or crib.
Keep children and pets off of the floor away from dark cluttered areas.
Seal cracks and crevices in the structure where spiders can enter the home. Common areas for cracks and crevices are window sills, door thresholds, and around pipes. Outdoors, eliminate potential breeding habitats such as wood piles, leaf litter, and rocks where spiders may live near your house.
Pete's Spider Bite Story
I am Pete Haley and I collect Brown recluse spiders stories like bad ghost stories. Most ghost stories are not real whereas most brown spider stories are true. One of my first memories is of being bitten by a spider.
My spider bite story starts in the crib. I was 3 years old when I was bitten by a brown recluse spider on my right ankle. The pain was outstanding. It was the first real pain I ever had in my life. My temperature shot up to 105 for close to 3 days. At the same time my ankle exploded into a red blob which burned like fire. Red streaks and swelling went past my knee. I limped for over a month and I could not I wear a shoe on my right foot for a month and a half.
I was completely terrified of spiders. I could not express myself that well at the time, but now, well over forty years later, it is impossible to describe the pain I felt. But I will try.
I felt gushing, rotting, pain
It's the fear that I have lived with, and not the pain, that is has been hardest to counter. Knowing that you could be bitten by any spider or could be bitten again by a Brown Recluse Spider is a hard fact of life to learn when you are 3 under your covers in the dark.
I had some form of arachnophobia where I was traumatized by the idea of spiders up until the age of 22. I still cover up my feet at night, because I don't want to be bitten on my ankles ever again.
Now I see brown recluse spiders on a daily basis. I have to crawl in crawl spaces or I am in close quarters with brown spiders on a weekly basis. And yes, I occasionally still get freaked out by brown spiders. I have been bit and I know what these creatures can do. I have studied their habits and know where they are most likely to be found. Believe me when I say to you that I can empathize with your pain and fears.
Haley Pest Control offers solutions to brown spiders to prevent the pain and suffering that they can inflect on you, your children and pets.
In Lawrence, KS, Johnson County, Kansas, Topeka, Baldwin City, Eudora, Desoto, Overland Park, Olathe, Lenexa, Leawood, Prairie Village, Shawnee, Mission, Stanley, Ottawa, Kansas City, Basehor, Linwood, Tonganoxie, Mclouth, and Perry-Lecompton. We offer Pest Management and Exterminator services for the following counties: Douglas, Johnson, Jefferson, Franklin, Shawnee, Wyandotte and Leavenworth, KS In Northeast Kansas.