Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. The sight of a creepy, crawly spider can send you into full ninja mode if you have arachnophobia. But, even if you don't fear spiders, imagine what it would be like to live in a home infested with as many as 6,000 poisonous ones! Brian and Susan Trost had to abandon their home because it was overrun by brown recluse spiders. Of course, their situation was extreme, but all it takes is one bite from a brown recluse spider to change your life. Their bites can be deadly if not identified and treated quickly. Here's what you need to know.
Appearance: Brown recluse adults are the size of a quarter including their legs. They range in shades of tans and browns. They can be identified by a dark brown violin-shaped spot on their backs. Their legs are long, of course, and they have an oval-shaped body. They have 3 sets of eyes, whereas most spiders have 4.
Reproduction and life-span: Females lay egg cases which they wrap in silk. This silk makes the egg cases look like small cotton balls. Egg cases can contain as many as 50 babies. One female can lay 2-5 egg cases during a lifetime. Brown recluse spiders can live 2-3 years.
Habits and habitat: They like to hide in dark places, which is why they are called recluse. They don't like movement, so you may not find them in the busiest parts of your home. They are more likely to be found in closets, garages, attics and other similarly dark, quiet places in your home.
Poisonous, Deadly Bites
Why they bite: They generally do not bite unless they are disturbed. They will bite to protect themselves when they feel they are in danger. For example, you may get bitten when you reach into a box that a brown recluse has made its home.
Bite identification: A bite may not be felt right away. You may not notice anything until 2-8 hours after you've been bitten. At that point, the bite mark may be swollen and red. Sometimes, a lesion in the shape of a bull's-eye can form at the location of the bite. Over the next 12-48 hours, the tissues can start to die. Flu-like symptoms can develop, and infection can set in. Complications of an infection can lead to death.
Treatment: If you or a family member suspects a bite from a brown recluse or there is an unexplained wound, head to the ER right away for treatment. Treatment typically consists of antibiotics and antihistamines. In an extreme case, surgery may be necessary to remove the venom and deadened tissues.
Pest Control Options
Professional help: Since one female can lay as many as 250 babies in a lifetime, it's a good idea to get professional help if you find a brown recluse spider in your home. There's no way to tell how many are hiding in various parts of your home. A professional pest control company may use insecticide sprays and/or dusts. Depending on the extent of an infestation, it may take several treatments to get rid of them.
Prevention: The best way to control the brown recluse is to keep them from moving into your home altogether. Most spiders spin long strands of webbing to travel with the wind, but the brown recluse does not. They hitch rides in and on things, such as boxes, furniture, blankets, and appliances that may have been in an infested building or home. Carefully inspect items before you take them into your home.
The sight of a spider gives many people the heebie-jeebies. But, the bite from a brown recluse spider can cause serious health implications that could lead to death when not treated promptly. For this reason alone, it's important to keep brown recluse spiders out of your home.