Is That a Brown Recluse Spider in the Corner of Your Ceiling?

Brown recluse spiders seem so abundant these days that you see them building webs all over your home, and most people have no idea that the spider they’re looking at is a recluse.

Spiders are spiders – right?

When I first started working as a pest control technician I had no idea what a brown recluse looked like. Oh, I knew they have a fiddle shaped marking on their backs, but you must get really close to the spider before you can recognize that mark.

If you get that close you’re a whole bunch closer than safety demands.

My first month as a technician I worked with another tech as a trainee, visiting a number of customers, and learning how to inspect and treat for pests. My instructor, and the pest control company’s resident entomologist, told me that brown recluse spiders were no threat here in Indiana.

The truth soon proved otherwise, and luck was with me when I learned that truth.

During my training period I studied local pests and their habits, and one book I read had pictures of brown recluse. I gave them no more than glancing looks, but those short glances anchored a fuzzy picture in my mind that set an alarm off the first time I truly did see a recluse in one of my customer’s buildings.

It was in the basement area of a major hospital that I made my first recluse sighting. As I looked at the spider moving around its web something about the legs seemed familiar. To me a brown recluse’s legs are distinctive; they are very long and slender. I remember thinking at the time, “That looks like those pictures I seen of brown recluse spiders.”

I caught that spider on a glue board, took it back to the company with me, and had a look at it by a microscope that evening. Sure enough a violin shape was on that spiders back.

From that moment on I had a definite, and long-lasting, picture of the brown recluse legs in my head. That’s a picture that never faded, I see it as clear today as I did that day – almost 10-years ago.

That picture saved me from a number of bites over the years.

One time I opened a small box, looked in, and seen what I thought was a set of those legs scurrying for cover. I dropped the box, put a glue board in it, and used a long tool to move the items inside around. A few moments later I had two brown recluse spiders retained on that glue board. A few feet further along the wall I opened another box to identify another recluse in residence. I got that one on a glue board too.

If you see spider webs around your home, be careful about approaching them. Brown recluse spiders are everywhere these days. I’ve found them in my bathtub, and often in my storage barn.

Find some pictures of these spiders; familiarize yourself with how their legs look. Get a picture of those legs fixed in your mind well enough that you at the minimum recognize a possible brown recluse if you see one.

Don’t take a chance on getting too close to these spiders. Their poisonous bites leave you with some nasty wounds that won’t heal soon, and sometimes spread by your body.

When you think you see one understand that he probably has a family. You probably must treat your whole home to minimize infestation.

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