You may have heard a couple stories about the brown recluse spider and how it can be dangerous, but would you know if you saw one? Do you know what climates they live in, and how they behave? When it comes to spiders that may pose a threat (or at least, an annoyance), it's important to understand how to spot them and what actions to take if it looks like you have a pest problem! Let's take a closer look at the brown recluse and everything you need to know!
The brown recluse is an unassuming spider, colored light to dark brown and only around ¼ to ½ inch long – and most of that is the recluse's spindly legs. The easiest way to identify the brown recluse is the violin-like brown shape on its back. However, because of the recluse's size you usually have to get pretty close to see this, so be careful when studying spiders! If you spot a small brown spider in your home and you live the right climate (more on this in a bit), it's usually worth a careful examination.
The brown recluse is well-named: These spiders are famously reclusive and prefer to stay away from people, animals and light, hiding in dark spaces. That means you can often find them in woodpiles, sheds, and piles of old leaves outdoors. Inside, their hermit-like habits can prove more dangerous: Brown recluses may call boxes in your attic or basement home. They may find a spot to live in dark closets or at the bottom of boots, too. When exposed, they will usually try to scurry away.
There are 11 species of brown recluse spiders that can be found around the world (except, up to this time, for Asia and Australia). In the United State, brown recluses tend to stay where it's warm and preferably dry. They are found primarily in Midwest and Southeast states, and have been seen as far west as Nebraska and as far north as Ohio.
Danger and Prevention
The goods news is that brown recluses are not aggressive. If they bite a human, it's generally by accident as they are trying to get away. However, that bite can be potent, especially if high levels of venom are injected. Reactions vary from a mild allergic response to serious tissue death, so it's important to keep an eye on the bite if you think it was a recluse.
Prevention is all about making sure these tiny spiders can't get inside. It's important to seal up any cracks, gaps and small spaces in your home, as well as making sure that your weather-stripping doesn't wear down. Make sure your attic and basement are tidy, and that all containers are tightly sealed. Outside, keeping wood piles away from the house and making sure there is no piled debris can help keep recluses away. Pest professionals can help you make these changes, and clear out a serious infestation!
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