Brown Recluse Spider Control
Summary: Brown recluse spider control can take months, but control is possible if you approach it properly. Proper identification, exclusion, elimination of hiding places and proper monitoring and pesticide applications can make you a winner.
Funny thing about brown recluse spiders. They are reclusive. Seems pretty obvious, but you would not know it judging the many inquiries I get. œI think I found a brown recluse spider on my TV screen, or œI opened my refrigerator door and found a spider sitting on top. Is it a brown recluse? In both cases my guess would be that neither spider discovered would be a brown recluse because both locations are subject to a lot of human activity.
First, understand that the recluse spider lives naturally outdoors in woodpiles and tree stumps. The recluse spider would be happy to continue under those conditions except for the fact that humans put out a large welcome mat in the form of outdoor lighting. We call on lighting specialists to figure out ways to accentuate our homes with floodlights and eave lights and wall lights, up-lights and down-lights. Spiders quickly become attracted to the bright lights because that is where their food can be found. All those lights attract tens of thousands of flying insects and all those insects are a bounty for hungry spiders.
It is estimated that two million spiders can be found in an acre of grassland. That means there are probably about a million spiders hanging around your property. Put out enough lights and some of those spiders are going to find their way inside. Now, not many of those spiders are likely to be brown recluse, but occasionally you are going to attract one of these guys, especially if you live somewhere in the Midwest to Southwest.
Most times, the recluse spider hitches a ride into your house in a box or inside furniture. The problem is, once inside, recluse spiders are very, very difficult to eradicate. More on that in a moment.
To help you keep your cool when coming upon a spider, let's do some basic identification work. This will be your five questions to determine if you are or are not looking at a brown recluse spider.
Does it have the infamous dark violin pattern on the portion of its body where the legs are attached? I repeat! The violin pattern is dark. It is clearly defined.
Are the legs uniform in color? No stripes or bands.
Are the legs mostly hairless? The legs of the recluse do not look like they have spikes or spines.
Does it have three sets of two close-set eyes for a total of six eyes? You will probably need a magnifying glass to see this, but it is the definitive way to make the correct identification.
Does the web look like the classic œCharlotte's Web design or is it out in the open and easily seen? If so, it is not a recluse spider.
Okay! There you have it. Now you can eliminate ninety-nine percent of the spider alarms you have been sounding. The other good news is that recluse spider bites are rare. You really have to harm one to get it upset enough to bite you, and even if it bites you, about ninety percent of those bites do not turn into medical problems. Of course, if you are bitten and do positively identify the spider as a recluse you should still seek immediate medical attention.
So, let's say you do, in fact, find a recluse spider in your house. They are capable of some pretty rapid multiplication when you figure the female recluse only needs to mate one time. From then on she can produce about 150 babies per year. That is a lot of spiders hiding in cracks and crevices. And, they don't just sit there waiting for you to spray them with a pesticide if you do spot one. If they get a whiff of the treatment they are fast runners and will quickly head for the hills until the shooting is over.
Best control methods employ multiple levels of attacks. Glue boards are an effective tool, but too often people put out three or four boards and hope that will do the trick. You need to stop at a local pest control company to purchase a box of flat, paperback glue boards. For under $30 you can buy a box of 72.
The recluse loves clutter. If you want to get rid of brown recluse spiders you are going to have to do something about those disorganized stacks of boxes, books, papers, shoes, piles of clothing, lumber, garden hoses. You name it and the recluse spider will adopt it as home if it provides lots of dark, sheltered spaces. If you cannot get rid of it, put it in tied plastic bags or plastic storage bins.
Preventing the spiders from getting inside in the first place should be at the top of your hit list of things to do. Fix door thresholds and replace the worn out door edge of your garage door. Knock down all those spider webs in the stairwell in the seldom-used back stairs. Make sure screens and storm windows fit properly. Give a spider an inch and it will make your home its home.
Lastly, consider pesticides. Insect foggers don't work because the fog won't penetrate deep into the places where the spiders are hiding. Use long lasting pesticides that coat the areas the spiders inhabit. I like pesticide dusts like Tempo 1%. Don't over-apply it. Just a puff of dust is plenty and it will remain effective so long as it stays dry.
Recluse spider control can take months and many people give up too early and experience full blown re-infestations. That is why it is so often said that once you have a recluse spider infestation you will always have an infestation, especially when it comes to older homes where there is simply no access to some areas. Newer homes have access to attics and crawl spaces, so control can be achieved. Lots of work. Lots of persistence. Possibly, lots of money, but control is possible.