My fear and hatred of the brown recluse spider
Waking up at 5 a.m. because my boyfriend
felt a spider on his arm is what made me
go ahead and write about my
hatred for brown recluse spiders. This blog entry will be pretty long, as it stems from many years
of knowing that these spiders live amongst us here in the south,
and the fear of getting bitten by one. If there is one thing I loathe...it is the brown recluse spider or fiddleback as it is also known.
Brown recluse spiders...if you live in
Dyer County or the surrounding area...you
have them in your house. This is my hypothesis
at least because...they are here. They are all
over this area. Even if you build a brand new
house, you are going to pack them up and
bring them from your previous house.
Of course you will have way less, but they
will be there lurking in your clothes, ready
to make babies at your new house.
I have been to many yard sales and seen them crawling around the freshly unpacked clothes, wondering who messed up their house. My worst yard sale experience ever was when I told a girl there was one on a ball cap that she was selling, and she (not knowing what a brown recluse was when I told her) KILLED IT WITH HER FINGER. After I told her it was highly poisonous, I think she probably looked at her finger the rest of the day. Hopefully she hit his back and did not get bitten.
Pretty much, places you may see them at home is in the sink, bathtub, shower, toilet...where they go for water. If you have seen a brown spider in those places, probably about 85% of the time, it is a brown recluse. Or if you find a spider dead in a coffee cup or bowl that hasn't been used in a while....yep. They love cardboard boxes too, especially in the attic or basement. They also molt and leave their little shell bodies behind. So if you see spider shells with no spider in there, just stuck to a box or the wall...more than likely it is a brown recluse. If they are in your clothes that are hanging, they know when you move your clothes around looking for something to wear, and they will move accordingly away from that spot and almost never be seen. Unless they are unable to avoid you and stay in the shirt that you pick to wear. I have brown recluse vision and can usually see them across a room. :( Also in the BED is where they like to hunt! My least favorite of all places for them to be. They especially like bedspreads and comforters that touch the floor so they can crawl up easier. We built a bed that I absolutely love, but the whole frame touches the floor, which also makes it easier for them to crawl onto. So I have surrounded it by several of the sticky insect traps now. :)
For years, I have taken all the cover off the bed every night and shook it and the pillows to make sure I am not going to bed with one. But, they are night hunters so they may end up in the bed after all, which is what happened last night, and my boyfriend shook one off his arm this morning. It literally makes my skin crawl and makes me yucked out to think about it. I looked until I found him and killed him. And yes, I will have nightmares and be even more paranoid now.
And my boyfriend...being the joker that he is and knowing how much they freak me out...likes to tell me there is one on my arm, back, forehead...yeah...he is asking for it.
Growing up, my parents were aware of them years ago and instilled in me the fear of being bitten.
They would have sticky traps around,
and my dad would spray
periodically and pretty much we did not see that
many at our house. When I bought my
first house and went to move in...there were the
leftover bodies in the corners of my new-to-me
house that made me know the previous owners
had their share of them. I even asked the
lady afterwards when I saw her at the store, and
she said she didn't know they had them.
I explained that they are just normal
looking brown spiders to most people, and she
gasped after knowing she would just let
her children kill them if they saw one.
So pretty much after I moved from there,
even though I tried to spray, I know I took
more with me to my next house.
I have read about them so much over the
years that I feel like I have learned alot about them. But I am no expert, and anything I
write about on here is either something I
read or something someone told me from their
first hand experience with them.
And I have heard alot of stories because so many people I ask have been bitten at one time or another, or know someone who has a horror story. I so far have not been bitten (as I knock on wood, vigorously).
This is perhaps my most horrifying story that I was told first hand by a lady that I know who was helping her daughter
clean out a shed. It was hot outside, which is what the brown recluse likes, so they were out and
about in the shed. The lady was wearing loose shorts and saw a spider on her leg and panicked. He ran UP her shorts, which is what they tend to do is try to run up and over something to
try to hide on the other side. She tried to smash him, and that was a big mistake. He bit her...yes...you know where. I get chills and a sick feeling just thinking about it. :(
One thing I have read over and over, is that
they do not bite until you put pressure on them.
They don't just walk across you and bite that I am even aware of.
That is why sooo many people get bit while putting on their clothes. The LOVE to hide in
our clothes, and when we put on our clothes, the pressure from the clothes touching our bodies makes them bite us. If you ever ever do see one on you, DO NOT smash it. Brush it off if at all possible.
I know it may seem super silly, but I do not put on anything
until I observe it well and actually either fold it and stomp on it, or shake it well then squeeze whatever it is from top to bottom so that I would squish any would be spider inside.
Something I read years ago that I loved was that it may be gross but,
"A squished spider cannot bite."
Most of the stories I have been told are from clothing or shoes that was put on. I did have one lady that sat down in a used car that she and her husband were looking at to buy. It had been sitting for a long time in a shed. She had on shorts and sat on one. She ended up with a huge hole in the back of her leg after the rotting had stopped.
I have never written these stories down, and it gives me the creeps, but I really felt like I needed to get this information out of my head...and today was the day.
More crappy news is that brown recluses are
hard to kill and can live for years. They also can live for months and months without food and water and are not above cannibalism. If they don't have food, they will eat each other...that is what we are dealing with here.
There are a few sprays and powders that have been found to be effective on killing at least a portion of them, but due to their reclusive nature they still can avoid alot of killing methods.
They also walk
with their body held off the ground more so than most spiders, so they don't drag their body through
the poison, making it even less effective on them.
They like bugs but are not picky, if you kill their prey, they really don't care. They don't mind eating dead bugs, it really just makes it easier on them, so they say...thanks for killing my food for me. :(
Once again, this is all stuff that I have read or been told over the years and have read in enough places that I am pretty sure most of it is true.
4 years ago, my dad got in the bed to lay down. He did not check the bed beforehand, and as he got in, he felt a tiny tiny prick on the back of his leg. He got up and searched to no avail. The next day, he showed me and there was a spot that looked just like a bruise about the size of a quarter. We were both sure of what bit him. He waited a couple hours but the spot was getting bigger, so he went to the doctor. She gave him a shot of
anti venom, and I believe an antibiotic shot...not 100% sure because I have forgotten exactly what he got. I have heard similar stories where they get a shot that is for leprosy, which probably was what this was. They have found it to be best for brown recluse bites. Anyway, dad's leg continued to look grosser by the day and he got more shots and was told..."DO NOT PICK AT IT."
And yes, he was really wanting to pick at it, but it really didn't need to be opened up. By the time it got to its' worst point, several days later, it covered a large portion of the back of his thigh and was black, blue and red looking under the skin. After several more shots, it started to heal from the inside and actually got better and did not "rot" out like they can and have to be dug out...which makes me want to gag thinking about it. He also was fortunate for catching it early and not getting sick. Most of the time, people may not even be aware they are bitten and go a day or so, then they can get flu like symptoms and really need medical attention. It took several months, but his leg healed completely, thank goodness!
As far as the bites, I have read also that normally the male is the spider that bites most people. The female stays with the egg sac having a 100 more babies and waits for the male to go hunting (in our bed of course). The severity of the bite is determined by many factors. The age of the spider for one, if it is a young spider, it may not know how to control the amount of venom that it uses, so it may inject more into its' victim. Also how hungry the spider is makes a difference. They are likely to inject more venom if they are hungry, to be sure and kill their victim or prey. The severity of the bite also is determined by the person they bite. I really believe it is similar to being stung by a wasp. Some of use are barely allergic, while some of us could die from asphyxiation from a bee or wasp sting. Spider bites are similar in that, some people may get bit and never even know it. They may get a small raised bump or no bump at all, whereas, some people are like the man I knew in my next story.
A customer of mine put his overalls on one morning and felt a bite of some kind on his inner thigh, but not knowing about brown recluses, he went about his day thinking it was just something that barely stung him. Several hours later, he said he thought he was going to die. He had a pretty bad reaction and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. He had fever and even said he blacked out for a bit. He recovered but was very aware of the spiders after that day. This is one of the stories that makes me pretty sure that people can have an allergic reaction to them that would be similar to other insect allergies.
After mentioning I was writing this, another customer just told me a story that will give me even more nightmares. He said his grandfather got bitten on his back, and it got pretty much swollen to the point it was like he had a softball on his back. The bite got so bad that he actually ended up having a heart attack and dying. That was the saddest story I have been told about one.
It just made me sit here and stare at my computer. Sigh :(
Some people may have been bitten and never even know it. I sure hope I am in this category, but I am going to try my best to avoid getting bitten, just in case I am not.
Another tidbit is that the fangs of the fiddleback are not very big. Therefore, from my readings, they cannot bite THROUGH your clothing. That's not to say if it is a really thin shirt or something that they may not can, but typical clothing is too thick for their fangs. The bad part is that they like to hide so normally, they are already INSIDE
our clothing. We make them bite us when we press down on them. I just cringe thinking about it. :(
Recently in the news, I noticed that
that Megan Linsey (who I was not aware of because I rarely watch), but she was the runner up on the Voice season 8 and was bitten on the FACE while she was sleeping. She had a terrible time with it. You can just type in her name and there are pictures all over the internet. It makes me queasy to think I would roll over on one with my face.
As far as killing these abominations...
I have tried several different sprays and bombs and powders over the years. Like I said, they are definitely not the easiest thing to kill. I think they are the cockroach of spiders. They hide in the walls and crevices and corners. They love clutter and anything that doesn't get moved very often. Pyrethrins is one of the chemicals that I have read that can actually kill them, and that I have used. They make various sprays and foggers and powders that contain this chemical. Typical foggers that you get at the store are not effective because of the nature of the brown recluse. That's not to say it might not kill one if it hits him directly, but it is not effective like it would be on other insects as far as them walking through the residual spray and dying. I typically order my stuff from domyownpestcontrol.com. You can type in your bug problem, and they will give you ideas on what products may help to rid you of your pest. Also the Co-Op here locally, sells a dust called Demon I believe that you add to water and spray. It has been found to be also slightly effective on them as well.
Ok...now that I have talked about them this much, I feel super creepy like I knew I would. I just wanted to post this in case anyone might read it and be more aware of the brown recluse. Kids are even more susceptible because their bodies might not can handle the venom like an adult. So try to watch for these spiders and if you see very many, buy some sticky traps or spray to try to prevent being the next victim.
I sprayed my attic and bedroom like a crazy woman this morning and put down the extra sticky traps around the bed. If you have pets, you need to fold the sticky insect traps to prevent them from getting stuck to them. If you don't, just let them lie flat against the baseboard. These spiders like to walk against the baseboard more than just across a room. If you fold them, also put them against the baseboard. You can also put some under your couch, bed, etc. to find out where they may hang out.
That is all I have. I am spidered out. :(