As Temperatures Cool, Brown Recluse Spiders are Not So Reclusive

Monday, September 19, 2011

By NPMA Staff

 

Although a frequently misidentified species, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds homeowners of the real health threats posed by the brown recluse spider when fall begins. With bites that can take three hours to develop and three weeks or longer to heal, the brown recluse injects a venom, which can cause severe allergic reactions, notably in children, the elderly or those with preexisting medical conditions.

Often identified by a dark brown violin shape on its back, the brown recluse spider is predominantly found in the Midwest and Southeast of the United States. This species is well known for its "secretive" behaviors as it prefers to take residence in warm, dry and dark environments, such as woodpiles, basements and closets.

"As the brown recluse is known for its bites, many assume that this spider is aggressive when the opposite is true," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "This arachnid bites, usually unintentionally, when it feels trapped. Whether we dig through our storage in the attic or wear a piece of clothing in which a brown recluse has made its home, their bites are reactionary. Therefore the sheer presence of this pest can increase the potential pest-related health risks facing homeowners and their families."

NPMA offers the following tips to help prevent contact with brown recluse spiders:

  • Avoid keeping clothing and shoes on the floor and consider storing inside plastic containers.
  • Shake out all clothing that has been in a hamper before wearing or washing.
  • Keep garages, attics and basements clean and clutter free.
  • If a spider bites you, contact your primary care physician for medical advice.