However, this is not the case for the brown recluse spider. This somewhat common spider has a bite that’s venomous to humans and can cause serious health problems.
Although brown recluses are venomous spiders, they aren’t aggressive, and they’re not as deadly as many people believe, it’s still important to get rid of a brown recluse spider infestation as soon as possible.
While there are some methods you can try to do on your own, it may be best to go straight to a professional pest control company because of the health risks. A professional exterminator will know how to get rid of these pests safely and quickly.
However, if you want to try to take on the problem yourself, we’ll share how to get rid of brown recluse spiders and keep them away. This article is part of the do it yourself pest control for homeowners series.
Identifying Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders are otherwise known as fiddle-back spiders and this is due to their markings, but they come in a variety of shades, from dark brown to light. Loxosceles reclusa are usually about the size of a quarter.
Brown recluse spiders are found throughout the south central and Midwestern United States, from central Texas to western Georgia, and north toward Kentucky.
Most active at night, these spiders are nocturnal hunters and can survive for months without a food source. They prey upon nuisance insects, like flies and mosquitoes. These spiders bite as an act of defense and are very unlikely to harm humans unless they feel threatened.
Brown recluse spiders are often confused with wolf spiders. The wolf spider is bigger, has eight eyes, and is hairier the brown recluse spider is smaller, has six eyes, fine hairs and is scarier due to its venom.
Identifying Brown Recluse Spider Bites
While bites are uncommon, brown recluse bites will turn red and may cause pain and itching for several hours. Due to the breakdown of tissue, a brown recluse spider bite can lead to an open sore that may take a week to develop.
The initial pain with the brown recluse spider bites is not intense unless there is a severe reaction. Within 8 to 12 hours the pain from the brown recluse spider bite becomes intense. Within 24 to 36 hours, the victim may have a fever, chills, nausea, joint pain, or be restless.
The area of the brown recluse spider bite enlarges, becomes inflamed and the tissue is hard to touch. The brown recluse venom has an enzyme that destroys cell membranes in the wounded area.
The affected tissue sloughs away, exposing underlying tissues. and over a period of a few days a large ulcerous sore forms.
An open wound from the brown recluse spider bite may range from the size of an adult’s thumbnail to the span of a hand. The sore heals very slowly for about 6 to 8 weeks and often leaves a large, disfiguring scar.
If bitten, collect the spider if possible for identification and get medical attention immediately.
Apply ice packs to relieve the swelling in the brown recluse spider bite area.
Identifying Brown Recluse Infestation
Although the word recluse alludes to the spider’s solitary lifestyle, brown recluse spiders are prolific breeders. A typical female brown recluse lays up to five egg sacs, and each egg sac can contain as many as 50 eggs. So yes, if you see one, it could mean that you have hundreds of them.
Obviously, to continue to exist, brown recluse spiders have to live close enough to one another to find mates. The fact that they are recluses just means that they will spread out throughout your home and yard instead of huddling together in a group.
Like other household pests, brown recluse spiders are nocturnal, so they often remain undetected by hiding in cracks and crevices. And they can fit through tiny spaces, so it’s easy for them to get into your house.
Signs of Infestation
- an actual sighting
- webs in corners
- the presence of an egg sac
- flying insects in your home (a spider’s primary food source)
- unexplained blisters on your body that are accompanied by muscle pain
- signs of kidney failure or paralysis in your dog
If one or more of the above signs are present, it’s possible that you are dealing with a brown recluse infestation. Even though infestation isn’t the proper word to use in reference to spiders, let’s talk about some ways to get rid of brown recluses.
How to Get Rid of Brown Recluse Spiders
Method 1: Clean your home
The first step in spider control is cleaning. Suck up brown recluse webs and possibly egg sacs with a vacuum with a long-handled attachment.
Look for webs by focusing on hiding spots, corners, baseboards, bed skirts, beneath furniture, cupboards, cluttered closets, and above cabinets.
While cleaning, pay attention to small openings from the outside.
Method 2: Spray spider repellent
Get rid of brown recluses and other spiders by using a vinegar spray. Vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, can kill brown recluse spiders on contact. The acidity is toxic. If you can’t corner the spider and spray it liberally, it will die due to the acidity.
You can also use an insect spray that is effective at getting rid of a termite, house spider, or any dangerous spiders.
Method 3: Add Strong Scents
Brown recluses, like most spiders, don’t like strong scents, such as eucalyptus. Placed on window sills or other potential points of entry, this will act as an air freshener while potentially deterring spiders.
Method 4: Apply Essential Oils
Peppermint oil, lavender, and tea tree oil are also thought to be effective. You can easily make a DIY spray to apply to areas where you believe the spiders might be hanging out.
Hedge apples also are known to repel brown recluse spiders as well. This yellow-green fruit, commonly called hedge apples, is produced by the Osage-orange tree.
Method 5: Spread Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth powder is a safe, chemical-free way to treat spiders. A crushed sedimentary rock, diatomaceous earth can be purchased in food grade and then sprinkled on areas where spiders are living or gaining access.
Food grade diatomaceous earth works great in basements, attics, garages, tool sheds. Over time, spiders’ exoskeletons will degrade, leading to death.
Method 6: Use s Spider Trap
Basements are a good place for glue traps, sticky traps. You can purchase a sticky trap in multipacks from home supply stores and set them out in their hiding spaces and where spiders are living or potentially gaining access.
When set appropriately, sticky traps can snag dozens of brown recluses.
Method 7: Try a Brown Recluse Insecticide
Insecticides labeled for brown recluses must come in direct contact with the spider to be effective. You either need to spray the spider directly or hope that it walks on a surface still damp with the liquid.
For these reasons, insecticides or residual sprays are not the most effective way to thin or erase your spider population.
Spend some time cleaning up your garage and storage shed, getting rid of a favorite brown recluse hiding place, and add a few plants in key areas to keep spiders outside.
For example, organize storage areas and cover any containers to minimize your spider problem.
And the next time you have the hose out, spray the underside of patio furniture, where webs might be hiding.
Method 1: Clean and use spider traps
Clean your workspace, vacuum any webs and debris, don’t leave tools or piles of gym weights lying around, and seal any containers of screws or bolts (crawl space for spiders). Place spider traps near where you have seen or suspect spiders are hiding.
Method 2: Spray and remove hiding places
Spray any brown recluses you see in spidey holes in your log pile, then remove your woodpile to eliminate one of a brown recluse’s favorite hiding places in your yard.
Keeping brown recluses out of your home
Method 1: Seal any openings
Install door sweeps, screens, and apply weather-stripping to window and door casings. Caulk any cracks. Closing these crevices and wall voids will prevent brown recluses from entering your home.
Method 2: Strategic Planting
Brown recluses don’t like eucalyptus. They also tend to stay away from lemongrass, lavender, mint catnip, basil, lemon balm, and rosemary.
Planting these near doorways and windows, as well as along points of egress, will also help keep spiders from entering your home, garage, shed, and crawl spaces.
When to call a pest control service
If you can’t get rid of brown recluses on your own or you’re finding them in your basement, attic, and on the underside of the furniture, pest control experts can solve your spider problem.
Call them when you see one brown recluse, this is because they only mate once but a female can produce eggs through the rest of her life, so it takes just one spider to have a brown recluse infestation.
Pest control professionals are armed with the experience and resources to dispatch your brown recluses. They know where to look, and have specialized tools that can reach places you would otherwise be unable to. Experts can also offer guidance on how to prevent future issues with these and other household pests.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are hobo spiders the same as brown recluse?
Hobo spiders normally are found in the Pacific Northwest, and the brown recluse in the central southern part of the U.S. The brown recluse is native to the U.S., but the hobo spider is an invasive species from Europe.
Hobo spiders have a brown body and brownish-yellow markings on the abdomen. While brown recluse spiders are mostly brown, with a darker brown violin-shaped mark on the back.
What is the natural enemy of the brown recluse spider?
Brown recluse spiders have many natural predators including blue jays, crickets, and the praying mantis.
Perhaps the biggest danger to brown recluses, however, is us. Humans have been battling these creatures for hundreds of years. These spiders seem to often occupy peoples’ houses, and, because of their vicious bite, they need to be exterminated.
While brown recluse spiders are most active during the spring and summer, they do have long lifespans and can enter your home at any time.
To help keep brown recluse spiders and other pests at bay, we suggest practicing routine pest control and continuing to follow the above preventative measures year-round.
Spiders, even the venomous ones, still provide a lot of benefits to the ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean you want them hanging out in your house.