Many people actually mistake certain spiders in their home for the notorious brown recluse. Finding this particular spider in your home can be startling, because of their reputation for their venom and the fact their bites can cause necrotic flesh. Luckily, these spiders don’t produce this response in everyone, but you still don’t want them lurking around your home.
Learning how to get rid of brown recluse spiders isn’t difficult, but the task itself can be tricky and time-consuming. But the good news is, you can tackle this task by yourself with some dedication. You can always hire someone to remedy the situation, but doing it by yourself can be more cost effective.
So before you pick up the phone, let’s take a look everything you need to know about these spiders, and how to keep them away. First, we’ll take a look at the Brown Recluse itself. Next, we’ll look at how they reproduce, what their food sources are, and lastly, how to get rid of them. Let’s jump in!
What You'll Learn
What is The Brown Recluse?
The brown recluse spider is an arachnid. They are usually nocturnal creatures but if they are disturbed during the day they will move around. Obviously it has eight legs and a body, but there are identifying characteristics that are important. Below are the things you should look for when verifying whether or not you have one of these spiders on your hands and in your home.
Six eyes in three pairs. Brown recluses have their eyes paired together. You will find one in the front and one set on the left and one on the right. While this isn’t solely a brown recluse characteristic, it is definitely a telling trait.
Violin shape on their body. This is the signature sign of the brown recluse. Other species may have similar markings but if you are spotting a dark violin-like shape, your specimen is likely a recluse.
Light-colored, plain legs. There are no markings or stripes on the legs of the brown recluse. These eight legs are as plain as plain can be.
Body is about half an inch long. The body of the brown recluse isn’t very big, the legs make it look bigger than it actually is.
Solid-colored abdomen. The brown recluse can be either cream or dark brown, but it is always a shade of brown. Coloring depends solely on what the spider has eaten that day. The organs inside the arachnid are visible so there may appear to be slight discoloration on the body.
Covered in fine hairs. The very fine hairs all over the brown recluse give it an almost velvet-like appearance.
Brown Recluse Reproduction
A female recluse only needs to mate once in her lifetime to continue producing eggs. The eggs are laid from May through July. In one calendar year a female can produce up to 150 babies, but usually the number is slightly less than that.
Because a single female can easily build an infestation in your home, it is important to know how to get rid of them from your home. These arachnids build webs in protected places to lay their eggs.
Because the brown recluse spends more time away from the web than in it, homeowners usually won’t notice the webs or the eggs they are harboring. In a controlled environment these spiders were known to live up to two and a half years. Maturity usually occurs about a year after hatching.
What Do They Eat?
Brown recluses are hunters. They will kill insects and small rodents to eat, but they prefer to find dead things instead. If there are a bunch of dead bugs in the same place, chances are a recluse will try and feast on them. The less effort the spider uses to find food, the better.
Where Do You Find Them?
Generally you will find the brown recluse spiders in the central and southern states. States like Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and most of Texas are known for having these pests. While there has been the occasional sighting outside of the typical areas, infestations do not usually occur in those areas.
It is likely that a brown recluse may have hitchhiked in a box or something else if discovered outside of the usual area. Some people have commented that the map for the areas where these spiders are located is out of date, but there hasn’t been any adjustment made. Reports of these spiders have come from various states on the east coast.
Brown recluses are known to be shy like their name suggests. Generally they won’t harm you unless they are provoked. Typical places to find these pests are under old boards (especially in structures like barns), in cluttered areas of the home, in junk piles outside in the yard, attics, and crawl spaces.
What Happens if I Get Bitten?
*While we will discuss what to do if you are bitten, you should always call your doctor or visit urgent care, or an emergency room if you feel “off” after being bitten by any spider, or insect. Below are just recommendations based on research. Always contact your doctor immediately if you are concerned about a potential bite.
The problem with brown recluse spiders is that they are venomous. While these arachnids won’t bite a human without being provoked or startled, sometimes they are unintentionally disturbed. This happens sometimes when they have made their way onto your furniture or even into your bed. Below you will find the steps you should take if you have found yourself bitten by a recluse.
- Immediately clean the affected area with soap and water.
- Place a washcloth with ice wrapped in it directly on the bite and hold for 10 minutes.
- Repeat the above two steps once more.
- If you do not develop any raised or white bump, you are likely not allergic to the venom.
- You may end up with a low grade fever, but watch for further reaction.
- Make sure you monitor the site for a few hours after the bite.
- If you develop a white blister, you are having a reaction.
- At this point, you’ll and need to go to the emergency room as soon as possible.
- Sometimes the reaction can be severe enough to damage a lot of your skin.
- This means it may even turn gangrenous.
- It is recommended that you try and bring the spider with you if at all possible for identification.
- Do not aggravate it further by chasing it around your home.
- Attempt to catch it the easiest way possible and if you can’t, head to the emergency room without it.
Getting Rid of Brown Recluse Spiders
As you can see, having these spiders in your home is a big issue. How to get rid of them efficiently is the next step once you have encountered just one. It is absolutely necessary to handle the issue before the infestation multiplies or someone in the home is bitten. Below you will find the steps to take and a little more information about the process.
- Clean up your home. Because they like to nest in boxes and other hard-to-reach areas.
- You’ll need to clean everything from top to bottom.
- Do not leave any surface untouched, which includes the attic, basement, and crawl spaces.
- Sanitize. You will need to make sure your home is clean and free of any debris.
- Bleach and water are a good combination for ensuring all bacteria and other pesky things are dealt with.
- There are also some other cleaning supplies you can use in conjunction with a bleach water combination.
But the bottom line is this. If you are uncomfortable, call an exterminator. If you have the money for a professional, use it. Learning how to get rid of these spiders isn’t easy on your own.
It is a time-consuming process and you may not be able to get rid of the infestation on your own. Many of these companies will come back out if the problem hasn’t been handled Call around and check for the best prices, and see who is willing to offer competitive rates if you give them your business. It is definitely a worthy investment, especially if you have an incredibly large problem on your hands.
Once you have tried all the tricks to get rid of brown recluse spiders and successfully booted them from your home, you will need to begin the prevention process. Below are some suggestions for brown recluse prevention.
Keep Your House Clean
Keep your house clean. If you stay on top of the clutter and garbage, you will eliminate many of the potential hiding places. Being able to see if there are webs and eggs hidden is important, especially because you don’t want to have eggs hatch and deal with the same thing a few weeks or months down the road.
Insecticidal spray. You will need to check the label information and make sure you can use it effectively both inside and outside of your home. Spray the perimeter of your house and along the doors and windows. Sprays like permethrin can work very well with spiders. Remember to look at the warning label to see how it may affect children or pets living in your home.
Sanitize Your Home
Sanitize your home once a month. While keeping a clean home is a good start, using bleach water to wipe things down is a good prevention method as well. Remember to move your furniture around and clean under each piece as well.
Eucalyptus Branches & Oils
In our previous post, we talked about how effective eucalyptus is on warding off mosquitoes. But did you know that this tree can repel spiders too?
Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus citriodora) have a compound called p-menthane-3,8-diol. This chemical produces a strong odor that has been known to confuse insects and interfere with their sense of smell. And even though recluses are technically not insects but arachnids, this has certainly not stopped homeowners from testifying to the eucalyptus’ repelling capabilities.
To use this aromatic tree, you can do two things. First, you can get small branches from any of the two species of eucalyptus trees and scatter them on known spider-infested areas.
Or, you can mix water and a few drops of eucalyptus essential oils inside a spray bottle and spray it all over your home. Using an essential oil to repel pests has always yielded great results since it has all the compounds of the plant locked in one concentrated form.
Aside from eucalyptus, another minty plant that you can rely on is the peppermint.
This herb works against bumblebees, ants and hornets, so it’s very potent to pests. Researchers from the University of Georgia even published how peppermint can become a viable alternative to chemical pesticides, especially when you’re trying to get rid of spiders.
Like all essential oils, peppermint also has monoterpenoids in them. These are compounds that naturally keep bugs away. Monoterpenoids are also fumigants, making them one of the main ingredients in many modern commercial repellents.
To use peppermint, all you have to do is mix the oil with water and spray it around the house. For more effective recipes using this essential oil, go to our post here.
Sealing Your Home
There’s a reason why poorly maintained houses have pests. Giving these invaders a way in is just as bad as inviting them to live with you. So to keep brown recluse spiders away, you have to make your home inaccessible to them.
To do this, you need to seal a lot of holes and openings in your house. Use caulk to close the cracks, crevices and holes on your walls, cinch door seals for those bottom gaps on your doors and fine mesh screens for huge openings like air vents and sun roofs. And if you want, you can go the extra mile and install screens on your windows and doors.
What Doesn’t Work?
We’ve looked at what DOES work, but what doesn’t work? Unsurprisingly, there are several myths out there that may people “think” work in keeping spiders away. But these methods really don’t work, and end up costing you more time and money in the long run.
Another known natural repellent for brown recluse spiders is the Osage Orange or Hedge Ball (Maclura pomifera). This wrinkly green fruit is not actually an orange but a kind of mulberry. And there’s a legend about it being able to deter spiders, especially recluses.
This strange looking fruit can get rid of spiders but only in laboratory conditions.
Unfortunately, the truth behind the legend looks hazy. And it’s not because Osage oranges are completely ineffective. It’s how impractical this method is.
As SF Gate’s Home Guides explains it, a hedge ball has compounds called Z,E-nepetalactone and E,Z-nepetalactone. With these, it was demonstrated by a study from Iowa State University to effectively repel cockroaches. However, that was done inside a laboratory where the researchers went through a lot procedures just to extract the compounds out. Without the proper tools, chemicals and training, there’s just no way that a regular house can replicate that and test it on spiders. Not only is this difficult, but it’s a total waste of time.
What you should do, instead, is to find yourself an Osage orange essential oil. This oil has all the important pest-repelling compounds that we’ve mentioned, but they’re conveniently placed in a concentrated form.
One kind of spider trap is the inexpensive glue trap, a sheet of adhesive which attracts spiders and binds them the moment they step on it. Unable to free themselves, the spiders starve and die. Just place it in the middle of infested areas and wait for a few days for it to work.
But why does it not work? If you use a lot of these traps, you would probably lower the number of spiders hiding in your house. However, trapping and killing is not repelling. So there’s a chance that while you are killing spiders in some areas, more of them might come in from another corner in your house and reproduce.
Just like glue traps, the internet has tons of info on brown recluse repellents, and there’s just no telling what might work and what might not. So, the only way to really know how each repellent will turn out is to try them for yourself.
Learning how to get rid of recluses isn’t hard at all. The process is pretty cut and dry, especially if you use an exterminator. Remember to seek medical attention immediately upon being bit, even if you have just a minor reaction to the venom. Brown recluse spiders are nothing to mess with, especially when they are in your home.
So, while Brown Recluse spiders may not be quite as terrifying as you originally thought, you still don’t want them making a home inside of yours. There are several routes you can take to get rid of these annoying spiders, but ultimately prevention is best. When in doubt, call a pest control expert to ensure that your spider problem gets resolved quickly and efficiently.