The legend of the brown recluse spider is that the insect weaves its web where no human ever treads. As the name implies this spider supposedly is reclusive, and when you walk near its home the bug runs and hides.
So the legend says.
When I first started my adventure as a pest control technician the company entomologist told me that there are brown recluse living in Indianapolis (where I lived at the time), but the only times those spiders were ever seen was when someone ventured into the deep dark basements and sub-floors of the city’s oldest downtown commercial buildings. And then you only found these insects in the far corners of those spaces.
I studied pictures of the spider just in case I ever ran across one, and it’s a darn good thing I did that. Because he wasn’t telling me the truth about the recluse only living way deep in those old buildings.
Nope. Not by a long shot.
Not long after I started servicing one major Indianapolis hospital I walked into their storeroom where they kept old patient records. This was a warehouse space with stacks of shelves lined up all across the open bay area. On those shelves were boxes of records.
I entered the building through the loading dock. Just inside, and to the right of the door we kept a mouse box to help keep the rodents from getting into the records, and chewing them up for nest material. I picked up the box, opened it, and immediately dropped it.
Something fuzzily familiar looking grabbed my attention in that box.
After it landed on the floor I took a closer, more cautious look, and sure enough looking back at me was a brown recluse spider. At least at the time I would’ve sworn he was looking me over. I got out a glue board to capture him, and as I coaxed him onto the board out jumps another spider from behind the bag of mouse bait that was in the box.
Must’ve been a mate.
Well, I managed to trap both of them on the glue board, and I took it back out to the truck so I could get a close look under the microscope back at the office. Then off I went to inspect the rest of the warehouse.
Would you believe that in the very next mouse box I found another recluse? I did – and I trapped that one on a glue board too.
You can bet I got real cautious during my inspection of the rest of that warehouse.
I was lucky because I had a picture of how these spiders look fixed in my brain. That isn’t common for most people though.
These spiders have a fiddle (or violin) shape on their back. When you see that you know for a fact that you’re looking at a brown recluse spider. But at the same time if you get close enough to this guy to recognize the fiddle mark, and the spider is still alive – you are way too close to this bug!
This is a small spider. It’s brown in color, and it has a nasty bite that can be a serious threat to your health. I learned to recognize it by the legs. They are very long in comparison to the size of the body, and they’re thin. The first few times I ran across these guys I wasn’t certain that they were recluse spiders. But that sense of alarm that I have built into my subconscious went off, so I approached the spiders warily.
These insects are getting so abundant across the United States that you might very well have them living in your home. I’ve found them in my house on occasion because I tend to leave spiders alone so they can catch the flies and mosquitoes for me.
Maybe you don’t want to take a chance on that. When I do find them I go ahead and take them out with a good residual insecticide. Your best bet is to learn how to recognize these poisonous bugs. And if you think you have a brown recluse spider in your home learn what kind of treatment you need to get rid of it. Or call in a professional pest control technician. Don’t risk a bite from one of these spiders.