Spider under a spyglass

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Eight legs, three pairs of eyes and two fangs: here comes the brown recluse. Manhattan has had a problem with brown recluse spiders in past years and the spider has a lot of myths surrounding it. So why is the brown recluse considered one of the most deadly spiders? How do you identify one? Should you be fearful?

Brown recluse spiders live one to two years, on average. Their main region of inhabitation is the lower Midwest and most of the southeast part of the country. The recluse also has an unorganized web pattern and unlike other spiders they hunt at night as opposed to waiting in their web for prey.

So why is the brown recluse on the top of the venomous, eight-legged creepy chart? The recluse is part of the Genus Loxosceles, a group of spiders noted by their very powerful venom.

The reactions a victim might have from a recluse bite can vary depending on the person’s health, the size and age of the spider, the location of the bite and amount of venom injected. The bite of the recluse spider may not hurt at first. Symptoms might not appear until about six to 12 hours after the bite, according to a 2014 Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service publication.

As the name implies, they try to avoid confrontation and only bite when threatened or if they have direct contact to skin. JR Ewing, a graduate student in the school of Entomology has had a few encounters with the brown recluse.

“I catch them all over my house … I’ve probably been bitten,” Ewing said.

If bitten, it is important to go to a health facility. Catching the bite and treating it early is helpful. Ewing also recommended a way to assist the doctors in healing a patient of a spider bite.

“Take (the spider) with you to the medical facility,” Ewing said.

How to Manage the Brown Recluse

According to Texas A&M; AgriLife Extension, brown recluse spiders are light brown with thin legs. Generally, they are not aggressive but will bite if threatened. These spiders are very venomous and like dark places that are cluttered or undisturbed most of the time.

“They would be in the corners, on the ceiling and in the shower,” Becky Biswell, sophomore in animal science and industry, said about the brown recluse spiders that roamed around her home.

Biswell lives in the basement of a house on the outskirts of Manhattan. After two weeks of living there, Biswell and her landlord brought in an exterminator to take care of the brown recluse problem. Before that, she said they were all over her bathroom.

“I honestly don’t like killing them,” Biswell said. “But if they’re being a nuisance, then I do.”

Biswell said that the deadly spiders are even helpful at times. Recently, the house she is living in underwent some renovations that let in some flies, which were taken care of by the spiders in the house.

Still, the brown recluse’s bite can result in ulcers in the skin and possibly be life-threatening and should be avoided.

Pestkill.org provides chemical and non-chemical methods of avoiding and killing spiders. One thing they stress is that brown recluse spiders like dark nooks and crannies so keeping organized and checking clothing and shoes laying out before putting them on.

“Less clutter and stuff, you get less brown recluses,” Steve McKinzie, owner of local pest control company McKinzie Pest Control, said.

Also suggested in case of an infestation are glue traps. If one does not mind picking up spider covered boards every now and then, this is a simple way of taking care of not only brown recluses but also other pests.

McKinzie said glue traps will help people realize just how much of a problem they are having with brown recluses. It can also help pinpoint where the spiders may be located. Brown recluses enjoy hard to reach places that are isolated, so houses that have been vacant for a long time and closets that have a lot of clutter will have more brown recluses than other areas.

“Spiders have the opportunity to take over,” McKinzie said.

Avoid the infestation in the first place by making sure that any gaps in the walls or pipes are sealed off. Vacuuming away spiders and eggs will also help if one has the time to go around to the possible hiding spots that might be in the house, and keep clutter off the floor.

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