As you prepare for holiday parties and visitors, issues with spiders and other pests are probably the last thing on your mind. However, winter is the perfect time for the development of infestations of spiders and other insects. When the outdoor temperatures drop, spiders seek warmth and protection by making their way into your home. It’s important for homeowners to be aware of where to look for spiders and how to protect themselves from spider bites. The brown recluse spider is common in many parts of the United States and poses a particular threat to families during the winter months. Find out how to recognize and protect yourself from this common spider below.
What is a Brown Recluse Spider?
The brown recluse is one of the most common types of spiders throughout many parts of the United States. It is also among the most feared spiders because of its poisonous bite that can be painful and damaging to the tissue of the body.
Image Credit: PestWorld
Brown recluse spiders have a unique appearance that makes them easy to differentiate from other types of spiders. As their name suggests, they are brown in color and feature a prominent violin-shaped mark on their back. Their name also gives away a key clue about their nature. Brown recluse spiders are generally very shy and will choose to remain hidden as much as possible. However, they lash out with a painful and destructive bite when they feel trapped or threatened in some manner, making them a huge safety concern for homeowners everywhere.
Are Brown Recluses Dangerous?
Brown recluse spiders inject a venom when they bite either humans or animals. This venom can cause many potentially serious health concerns. Each person reacts differently to a brown recluse bite. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the age and health of the victim, the size of the spider, and the amount of venom that was injected with the bite. Physical symptoms of a brown recluse bite can include fever, chills, skin blisters, necrotizing of the skin around the bite, and other serious reactions. It’s easy to see why everyone wants to avoid being bitten by a brown recluse, and this includes the need to protect any household pets from being harmed by these spiders.
Favorite Places for Brown Recluses to Hide
As mentioned earlier, brown recluse spiders are shy by nature. They will usually choose dark and quiet areas within your home to take up residence and reproduce. It’s important that homeowners are aware of the most common locations for the development of spider infestations. Regularly investigate the following areas of your home for the presence of spiders.
- Attics – Attics are a prime real estate for brown recluse spiders. The perfect combination of warmth, darkness, and a crowded environment to hide in provides these spiders with a comfortable home.
- Basements – Depending on the type of basement you have, this may be another area of your home to keep an eye on. Many people tend to store unused clothing, toys, and random containers in their basement. Be aware that brown recluse spiders can quickly take up residence in these items.
- Closets – Clothing, shoes, and unused winter weather gear are the perfect hiding places for spiders. It’s a good idea to not leave items on the floor of your closet and to check the insides of shoes, hats, and gloves before wearing them. This is especially true if the item has not been worn for a long time.
- Garages – The garage is another area of the home where people tend to store boxes of items such as sporting goods and out-of-season clothing. This creates a cramped location for spiders to hide away undetected.
How to Keep Brown Recluse Spiders Out of Your Home
Now that you’re aware of some of the more common places for brown recluse spiders to hide in your home, you may be wondering how to keep them from coming inside in the first place. There are several steps you can take to lessen the chances of developing problems with brown recluse spiders. Consider the following tips.
- Declutter favorite hiding areas – Creating unfavorable living conditions is the best way to prevent infestations of brown recluse spiders. Decluttering any storage bins, boxes, clothing piles, seasonal decor, and even paperwork can prevent these spiders from having good places to hide and deter them from sticking around.
- Seal any cracks or holes in the perimeter of your home – While this step may not be able to prevent the entry of all spiders and insects, sealing off all small openings around the perimeter of your home will reduce the number of spiders that get inside.
- Eliminate outdoor hiding places – When you’re working to cut down on hiding places for brown recluses, don’t forget about common outdoor habitats. These shy spiders love to hide under wood piles, loose stones, or areas where a lot of yard debris accumulates.
- Use sticky traps in common hiding areas – Setting up a few non-toxic sticky traps in areas that spiders tend to favor can easily catch the few who do make it into your home, keeping them from being able to reproduce and create a problem.
Common Ways People Get Bitten by Brown Recluse Spiders
Most people get bitten by a brown recluse spider when they inadvertently disrupt its hiding place. Slipping on a pair of boots you haven’t worn since last winter without knowing a spider is inside can surprise both of you. The same applies to clothing such as gloves, hats, and jeans. If you’re moving boxes or stored items that may have spiders in them, wear thick gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself.
How to Identify and Treat a Spider Bite
Brown recluse bites do not always have the same appearance for all people. However, pay attention to any painful or itchy bites that don’t go away within a day or two. If the skin surrounding a bite becomes red, hot, inflamed, or begins to break down, seek medical help right away.
Where and When to Seek Medical Help for a Spider Bite
While brown recluse bites will not kill you, they can be painful and lead to significant scarring in some individuals. If you have a spider bite that is worsening, causing you discomfort, or resulting in an open wound that resists healing, you need to seek medical care. A family physician or an emergency room facility can analyze the bite and may be able to offer helpful suggestions to encourage healing and reduce scarring.
The holiday season is a time of joy and gathering together with loved ones. It’s not a time to be worried about being harmed by brown recluse spiders. With the help of the information above, you’ll be better equipped to locate and handle any issues with spiders that you may have this holiday season.