Moving in for the winter toxic brown recluse spiders pose danger

December 15, 2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. - As the cold weather creeps in, so do brown recluse spiders. True to their name, the brown recluse is a shy, reclusive spider looking for a warm home. Drawn to clutter, closets and complex storage environments, the spiders actually want to stay away from humans. But, if care is not taken, people could find themselves sharing their home with one of 'the big three,' according to a University of Missouri entomologist. The brown recluse is one of three spiders in the United States considered venomous - the other two are the black widow and the hobo spider.

Brown recluse spiders are not aggressive, and because they are so reclusive, most bites happen by accident, according to Richard Houseman, associate professor of entomology in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. If brown recluse spiders are known to be in a home, Houseman recommends checking clothing, shoes and bedding each time the items are used.

"Often, bites occur when a person puts on a jacket or clothing that has a brown recluse spider inside," Houseman said. "If the spider feels trapped against a person's skin, it will bite in self-defense."

If bitten, there are some important actions to take immediately: "The spiders inject what's called a hemotoxin," said Houseman, who also is a state urban entomology specialist with MU Extension. "The hemotoxin produces a blister that turns black and sloughs off within 24 hours leaving an ulcerous open wound that takes six to eight weeks to heal, leaving a permanent scar. In very rare cases, the bite may lead to fever, rash, vomiting, coma, and death within two or three days."

The brown recluse likes to make a winter home in attics, basements, or areas where things are placed and left for long periods of time. The spiders are drawn to boxes of papers or files, which have a lot of cracks and crevices to use for hiding. Minimizing clutter in and around the home and sealing boxes are important ways to reduce the chance of a large brown recluse population in a home. Bug sprays do not work for ridding a home of brown recluse spiders. Like many spiders, they have long hairs on the bottom of their feet that enable them to walk across treated surfaces without getting a lethal dose. However, professional pest control companies have products that can be effective when applied to the spider's hiding places, according to Houseman.

"The best idea is to use sticky traps because the spiders will move onto the sticky traps and be caught," Houseman said. "The traps can be thrown away and replaced easily. Over time, there will be fewer spiders caught, which indicates the population has been greatly reduced."
-end-


University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Spiders Articles from Brightsurf:

Environmental factors affect the distribution of Iberian spiders
Southern small-leaved oak forests are the habitats with a higher level of spider endemism in the Iberian Peninsula, according to an article published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

These spiders can hear
Ogre-faced spiders hide during the day and hunt by night, dangling from palm fronds and casting nets on insects.

Untangling the social lives of spiders
Scientists begin to unravel the genetic mechanism by which a solitary spider becomes a social one.

Freshwater insects recover while spiders decline in UK
Many insects, mosses and lichens in the UK are bucking the trend of biodiversity loss, according to a comprehensive analysis of over 5,000 species led by UCL and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), and published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Cave fights for food: Voracious spiders vs. assassin bugs
Killing and eating of potential competitors has rarely been documented in the zoological literature, even though this type of interaction can affect population dynamics.

Spiders and ants inspire a metallic structure that refuses to sink
University of Rochester researchers have created a metallic structure that is so hydrophobic, it refuses to sink - no matter how often it is forced into water or how much it is damaged or punctured.

Compact depth sensor inspired by spiders
Inspired by jumping spiders, researchers at the Harvard John A.

Researchers find hurricanes drive the evolution of more aggressive spiders
Researchers at McMaster University who rush in after storms to study the behavior of spiders have found that extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones may have an evolutionary impact on populations living in storm-prone regions, where aggressive spiders have the best odds of survival.

Baby spiders really are watching you
Baby jumping spiders can hunt prey just like their parents do because they have vision nearly as good.

Solitude breeds aggression in spiders (rather than vice versa)
Spiders start out social but later turn aggressive after dispersing and becoming solitary, according to a study publishing July 2 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Raphael Jeanson of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, and colleagues.

Read More: Spiders News and Spiders Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.