Many people feel great fear when it comes to spiders, and of all spiders in the U.S., the brown recluse is one of the most fear-inducing arachnids. Luckily, even the most dangerous of spiders are not likely to bite unless they feel threatened or provoked. It's also important to note that brown recluse spiders are established only in sixteen states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. If you are outside of this region, you likely are seeing a different brown spider.
With so many different spiders out there, how do you know if the spiders you keep seeing are brown recluse spiders? Here's how to identify where the spiders keep coming from and stop them from entering your home uninvited.
What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Look Like?
Spider identification is complicated and often requires a trained eye as well as a magnifying glass or microscope for a 100% positive identification. While identification between families of spiders is much easier, once you start trying to identify species within families, that's when things can get complicated.
The brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is a part of the family Sicariidae, also known as six-eyed sicariid spiders. Within the genus Loxosceles, there are actually 11 spiders native to the U.S., and four of them are known to be of risk to humans.
Expect the following characteristics from sicariid spiders:
- About as big around as a quarter (including legs)
- Light to medium brown (occasionally dark brown or grey)
- 3 pairs of eyes (six eyes total)
- A distinct "violin-shaped" marking on their back
Since spiders aren't likely to bite unless provoked. Generally, it's best to give spiders their space, especially if you think you might be dealing with a recluse spider. Don't get too close for the sake of identification; instead, treat spider control in your home holistically and aim to make your home less appealing to all spiders, including the brown recluse.
5 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Brown Recluse Spiders
Whether you're dealing with brown recluse spiders or not, spider control is spider control, and it doesn't need to involve the use of sprays or chemicals at all. It's easy for spider control to be effective and all-natural!
It is a very common belief that effective spider control means spraying the home for spiders. Not only is this not effective, but it comes with added risk to the person applying the chemicals, as well as the surrounding environment.
Avoid the unnecessary risks of harsh chemical treatments and opt-for natural spider control options that are guaranteed to get better, longer-lasting results.
Turn off Lights
It's no secret that the way to a spider's heart is to feed it. If you don't like having spiders around, make sure you aren't accidentally drawing them into your house by feeding them.
When lights are left on at night, they attract flying insects. While this is more of an issue with exterior lights (such as porch and garage lights), interior lights shining through the windows will also attract flying insects, which will in turn attract spiders hoping to grab a meal.
By turning your lights off when not in use (especially exterior lights), you are reducing the number of favorable areas around your home where spiders might be spending time.
Reduce Clutter and Vegetation
Many spiders, including the brown recluse, prefer to stay hidden in seldom-touched areas outside.
If your home has clutter, stored items, dense plants, or firewood stored along the foundation, this gives spiders and other pests a sheltered place to hide out undetected, right up against the side of your home. From there, it's only a matter of time before they start making their way inside, especially if the weather is cold.
Since firewood is such a huge attractant for pests, it should be stored somewhere that isn't too close to the house but where the wood will stay dry. After all, wet wood is an attractant for other pests like ants and dampwood termites.
Also, try to clear out cluttered spaces inside. While spiders prefer the great outdoors, they're happy to move inside if there are adequate hiding spots.
Seal Spiders Out
Given that spiders are unwelcome guests in many homes, if you're serious about keeping them out, you may want to consider exclusion as a preventative measure.
Sealing spiders out of your house begins with closing entry points from the outdoors, such as small gaps around:
Depending on the circumstances, make sure cracks are properly caulked or screened to prevent spiders from entering. Start by focusing on areas that are dark, damp, and provide harborage.
When it comes to professional spider control, regular spider sweeping on a recurring basis is key to ongoing prevention. The good news? It's easy for a homeowner to do it themselves...as long as they aren't too afraid of spiders, that is!
Spider sweeping involves using a special brush called a cobweb brush attached to a long pole to remove spiders, egg sacs, and webs from the home. This works very effectively for long-term reduction of spiders because, not only are you removing adult spiders and their webs, but you are also disturbing and destroying egg sacs that would otherwise hatch into lots of other spiders.
To perform a spider sweep, work from top to bottom, guiding your brush along the corners and edges of your home. Focus on areas where spiders like to hang out, like the corners of doorframes and windows, around exterior lights, under the eaves, and along the gutters.
Vacuum Them Up
Once you've addressed the underlying causes of a spider problem, it's still likely that you will see an occasional invader. As creepy as spiders are, they are incredibly beneficial and keep nuisance insect populations in balance. Nobody likes pesky flies, moths, or mosquitoes, and spiders help to naturally control these pests for free!
If an occasional spider invader pops up inside, there is no need to panic! Just grab the vacuum and suck it up! The nice thing about using a vacuum for interior pest control? No squish mess, no need to get too close, and no need to look at any ugly, hairy spiders inside.
Signs of a Spider Infestation
If you live in a wooded area, your home is naturally at higher risk for a recurring spider issue. Spiders like to hide in quiet, well-hidden areas that aren't often disturbed. Places like:
- Storage areas
If you decide to tidy one of these areas, be sure to wear proper protective clothing, such as gloves, long sleeves, pants, socks, and close-toed shoes.
What Causes Brown Recluse Spiders?
Aside from an occasionally damaging bite, there is nothing special about the brown recluse that sets it apart from other spiders. The same things that attract other spiders attract brown recluse spiders, too. This is why it's so important to look at spider control holistically, aiming to reduce favorable conditions and discourage the overall presence of spiders around your home.
Brown recluse spiders are established in eleven states throughout the United States. Given that the brown recluse prefers dry, warm hiding spots for nesting, they are most commonly found outside in the south and midwest. In states that are not as warm, they hide inside structures.
There are a number of factors that could be causing a spider issue around your home, including:
- Lights left on at night
- Standing water or ponds
- Livestock (and their poop)
- Adequate hiding areas (wood piles, clutter, etc.)
For spider control, it's important to consider factors that attract insects. Since insects are a spider's preferred food source, reducing the presence of insects means reducing the presence of spiders.
How to Keep Brown Recluse Spiders Away From Your Home
If you're someone that doesn't like spiders, there are a number of steps you can take to keep them away from your house, like:
- Eliminate food sources (insects) by turning off exterior lights when not in use
- Reduce harborage areas outside, like dense vegetation and woodpiles
- Organize inside and outside hiding spaces like sheds, attics, and cluttered storage areas
- Seal them out using caulking or screen
- Regularly spider sweep the exterior of your home to reduce adult spiders, webs, and egg sacs
- Remove the occasional spider invader (and their sticky webs) using a vacuum cleaner
Keeping brown recluse spiders out of your home is the same as keeping other spiders out of your home. However, if you do encounter a spider up close, be sure to give it some space and appreciate the beneficial and insect-reducing work they do!
Brown Recluse Spider | UKY Entomology.