Though variable in size, adult brown recluse spiders with legs extended are about the
size of a U.S. quarter. Coloration ranges from tan to dark brown, and the abdomen and legs are uniformly- colored with no stripes, bands or mottling. The legs are long and thin and lack conspicuous spines. For lay persons, the most distinguishing feature of a brown recluse is a dark violin-shaped mark on its back, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the rear (abdomen) of the spider. This feature is consistent in adult brown recluses, but sometimes less obvious in younger spiders.
Habits and Development
In nature, brown recluse spiders live outdoors under rocks, logs, woodpiles and debris. The spider is also well adapted to living indoors with humans. They are resilient enough to withstand winters in unheated basements and stifling summer temperatures in attics, persisting many months without food or water. The brown recluse hunts at night seeking insect prey, either alive or dead. It does not employ a web to capture food — suspended webs strung along walls, corners, ceilings, outdoor vegetation, and in other exposed areas are almost always associated with other types of spiders. In homes, such webs are often produced by harmless cobweb or cellar spiders. While sometimes considered a nuisance, spiders like the cobweb or cellar varieties prey upon other pests (including brown recluses), and in this sense could be considered beneficial.
During daylight hours, brown recluse spiders typically retreat to dark, secluded areas. They often line their daytime retreats with irregular webbing, which is used to form their egg sacs. Adult female recluses seldom venture far from their retreat, whereas males and older juveniles are more mobile and tend to travel farther. Consequently, they are more likely to wander into shoes, clothing or bedding at night and bite people when they inadvertently become trapped against the skin. At times, brown recluse spiders will be seen during daylight hours crawling on floors, walls and other exposed surfaces.
About 40-50 eggs are contained within 1/3-inch diameter off-white silken egg sacs. The tiny emerged spiders gradually increase in size, molting five to eight times before becoming adults. The molted (shed) skins of the brown recluse have a distinct outstretched appearance and can be useful in confirming infestation.
Suspected bites occurring outside the native range of the brown recluse spider are particularly unlikely, given that surveys rarely yield recluses in non-native areas. Presumptive bites become even more unlikely if thorough inspection of the premises yields no sign of brown recluse spiders. If possible, anyone bitten by what is thought to be a brown recluse should try to collect the specimen and bring it to a qualified individual for identification. Even crushed or damaged specimens can usually be identified. Confirmation by an expert will help the physician decide on the appropriate course of treatment.
Brown recluse spiders are difficult to eradicate, largely because of their secretive habits. Virtually any dark, undisturbed area can serve as harborage, and many such places occur within buildings. Because of this (and the potential health threat), treatment is best performed by professionals.
Where They Hide – Thorough inspection with a bright flashlight is needed to reveal the location and extent of infestation. Likely hiding places include crevices, corners, and wall-floor junctures, especially behind clutter and stored items. Reducing clutter affords fewer places for the spiders to hide and can enhance effectiveness of treatments. Brown recluse spiders may also live behind walls, and inhabit the voids within concrete block foundations. In infested garages, attics, basements and crawl spaces, the spiders, egg sacs, and distinctive shed skins are often found along joists, sills and rafters, as well as under rolled insulation. In living areas, they sometimes inhabit crevices behind and beneath beds and furniture, closets, clothing, shoes, and stored items. When sorting through boxes or materials, wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid being bitten. Brown recluse spiders also live above suspended ceilings, behind baseboards and woodwork, and within ducts and registers.
Outdoors the spiders may be found in barns, sheds, woodpiles, and under anything laying on the ground. They also commonly reside behind shutters. Migration indoors can be reduced by moving firewood, building materials, and debris away from foundations. Sealing cracks and holes in a building's exterior can further help to keep these, and other pests, outdoors. Some of the more common entry points for brown recluse spiders include gaps under doors, vents and utility penetrations, beneath the bottom most edge of siding, and where eaves and soffits meet the sides of buildings. Outdoor populations of brown recluse spiders are less common in the northern portions of its range.
For Brown Recluse Control in Washington Mo. and throughout Franklin, St. Charles, Gasconade and Warren counties you can trust the professionals at D & R Pest Control, LLC to help you deal with brown recluse effectively and completely. Call us today at (636) 239-4998 to schedule an appointment for all your pest control needs.
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