They are the things nightmares are made of. Some folks freeze in fear at the sight of one. They can make you produce blood curdling screams and throw shoes at a wall. Spiders. Eight Legged Freaks. Demons from Hell. Call them what you will, but most spiders are harmless to you and your family. But some are not….
The Brown Recluse, aka “The Fiddler,”which sounds more like a villain from Batman than a spider in your home, is one of the top venomous spiders in the United States. Loxosceles reclusa (if you want to geek out on the name) is found in the central Midwest. From Nebraska to Kentucky, from Iowa to Texas, and everywhere in between.
Perhaps I am more aware of these guys than other people, but I find dozens of homes every year with Brown Recluses during home inspections. A few of these have been serious infestations…I’m talking hundreds of them found by me in one home, and I’m not really looking that hard for spiders.
How to identify a Brown Recluse Spider
The Brown Recluse is small. It is usually no bigger than a quarter, including the legs. The legs are long and skinny, and most times I have found them, they are sticking straight out. But as their nickname implies, the simplest way to identify them is to look for the marking on the cephalothorax (fancy name for their back). The “fiddle” or “violin” is easy to spot. There are several other species that get mistaken for the Brown Recluse quite often. That is why most experts look for this marking.
Where are they hiding?
As the name implies these guys are usually in dark places. They build irregular webs that frequently include a shelter consisting of random threads. They often build their webs in woodpiles and sheds, closets, garages, attics, basements and crawlspaces. During home inspections, I see them in the top of closets near the ceiling quite often, in basements around the rim joist, and attics. They are more common than most people think. In fact, one of the largest infestation ever recorded was in Kansas 2001. Over 2,000 brown recluse spiders were removed from a home where the people lived for years. Not one bite occurred in that house.
What to do if you find them?
Call a pest control company. This is one of those times you don’t want to get all DIY. Most pro’s will want to set sticky traps in the areas the spiders are most active. Give it a few days and then check the traps. This can help gauge how bad a problem you have. Then you can develop a play of attack on the hell spawns. You can also break out the biological warfare if needed.