Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa)
The "recluse" is known as a fiddleback because of a violin on its back just behind the head.
In milder seasons, the brown recluse can live outdoors under stones, firewood and loose bark where it constructs a small irregular web. In the winter, it spins a silken tube or cocoon like web to protect itself from the cold. It is more often found indoors in cracks, and behind or under items stored in closets, garages, attics, etc. It is "reclusive" in its habitat.
The female is a passive hunter and uses its web to capture prey. The male searches for prey in the areas surrounding the web retreat. He prefers to spend the day in dark secure areas surrounding the web retreat.
The spider takes about one year to mature from egg to adult and the adults are relatively long lived, probably surviving two winters. A female produces from one to five egg sacs during her adult life, each sac containing about 5 eggs. Most of the spiderlings are hatched during the summer. The young spiders do not have the violin marking.
Homes that have had asphalt shingle roofs installed over wood shingles can house large populations because these structures tend to have numerous silverfish which are a favorite food of the brown recluse.
When this spider decides to hide in between the folds of seldom used clothing, bed sheets, or shoes it becomes a danger to people. It is not aggressive and will only bite when trapped against a person's skin. A bite of the recluse is usually painless although some people experience a sharp pain, akin to an ant bite.
A localized burning sensation may develop and last about 3 to 6 minutes. Within the next 8 hours the reddened area enlarges and a pus-filled blister forms in the center. A hard lump up to two inches in diameter can form. Within 12 to 24 hours after the bite, systemic reaction can occur, although rare, and is characterized by fever, malaise, stomach cramps. nausea and vomiting.
Recluse venom causes blood clotting in the small vessels of the skin around the bite, resulting in death of the affected tissue. It is not uncommon for an open sore several inches wide and up to 1/2 to 1 inch deep to develop.
Reduce swelling by applying ice packs or alcohol to the bite area. Apply hydrogen peroxide or iodine to prevent infection. Remain calm. Seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room or medical center. Make every attempt to collect the spider so proper identification can be made.
A periodic, thorough house cleaning, vacuuming seldom used storage areas, boxes & closets will help minimize the spiders inside the home. Use of monitor boards in storage areas and attics is critical. Traps should be placed along walls. Fogging or dusting is with contact chemicals and residuals or flushing products is recommended.
Severe infestations may require a professional, but total control is so difficult that guarantees are not available.
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