The Brown Recluse Spider can be definitively identified by the presence of a dark violin on the top of its thorax. At full size, this Midwestern and Southern spider measures a little less than one inch from leg to leg, and the body of the brown recluse spider itself is less than half an inch at maximum size. Younger spiders have the same venomous bite of adults, yet their coloring is lighter and markings less distinguishable. A further identifying attribute of the spider is fine hairs on the legs, versus the spines present on the legs of most other spiders.
Brown Recluse Spider – Why Worry?
The brown recluse is second only to the black widow in the fear it engenders among otherwise cool and collected people. There is good reason for this, despite the fact that the brown recluse has no interest in biting humans. It would far rather be left alone to hunt down the many annoying insects that humans spend a lot of time and money trying to get rid of. In this sense, the brown recluse can actually be a welcome guest in human habitats, because it makes meals of insects that can carry disease, like mosquitoes and those hated cockroaches. Of course, any creature this small and innocuous that can take down a cockroach is something to worry about.
Brown Recluse Spider – Finding and Avoiding
The brown recluse comes to live near and inside human dwellings for two reasons only, habitat and food. To decrease anxiety over spider bites, the first step is removing their habitat and food from your home and yard as much as possible, especially important if there are small children involved.
The brown recluse prefers small and dark places for sleeping during the day. The modern home, with its emphasis on maximizing storage space with bins and organizers, is literally on big spider nest waiting to happen! The only thing to be done in most cases is be aware when reaching for things in small places. Look before reaching into potential spider sleeping spots. Shake out clothes before putting them on. Change the bed linens on a regular basis.
The brown recluse hunts insects that frequent the kitchen and bedroom. Keeping a clean house is a major step to preventing unintended meetings with spiders. Keeping a clean yard will help too. Consider planting herbs and ornamentals that are known pest repellents around the home. Catnip, rosemary, gardenia, and many others will keep those undesirables from infiltrating the home and attracting the brown recluse.
Of course, there is the chemical pesticide route for eliminating insects, though with small children this may be undesirable. Pesticides will also indiscriminately kill pest insects and their hunters, from the brown recluse to frogs. Once chemical pesticides are used, they will have to be reapplied regularly. A better option is to use spider traps in the home. After all, the brown recluse is not actually an enemy to humans, though being bitten by one can convince a person otherwise.
Brown Recluse Spider – Bite Symptoms and Treatment
The bite of the brown recluse is generally not much to worry about for a healthy adult. Certain other populations can be at risk of severe complications, however, including children, the elderly, and other immature or less than healthy people. In the worst case, bite victims will experience the onset of fever and shivering within days, followed by nausea and vomiting. The wound will become swollen and begin sloughing dead tissue after a week or so, forming a deep, painful, and gangrenous ulcer. Toxins may lead to kidney problems or hemorrhaging.
Treatment begun within 8 hours is most effective, though it requires exact diagnosis. Most brown recluse bites will heal sufficiently on their own in healthy adults, though other populations are advised to seek medical help as soon as possible. If you suspect that bite is from a brown recluse spider, or just want more information on the topic, visit a well-frequented forum like this one.