How to Get Rid of Brown Recluse Spiders
Updated: Apr 23
Out of all the questions we get about spiders, one spider that keeps showing up is the notorious brown recluse. Also known as the violin or fiddleback spider for the markings on its back, this small brown spider is barely larger than a quarter but possesses a poisonous bite.
Are Brown Recluse Spiders Really That Dangerous?
They can be, but like many poisonous spiders their danger is often exaggerated. Brown recluse venom is necrotic, infamous for destroying tissue in an expanding circle around the bite, but it typically doesn't spread far, and many times those bitten don't need professional medical services to recover (although visiting a doctor is always a good idea if you suspect a bite).
Occasionally, humans have a worse reaction to the bite that results in ulcers, fever, joint pain, and seizures, which can be serious and lead to death. The very young and very old – as well as pets – may be more susceptible to the venom of a brown recluse. They certainly aren't a spider you want around your home!
Signs of a Brown Recluse Infestation
The brown recluse is native to Oklahoma, but tends to be solitary, and brown recluse nests are usually nothing more than a small web. This spider loves to hide in small, dark spaces, and is often attracted to man-made spots like underneath decks and porches, in woodpiles, and in closet corners.
That, along with its small size, is what gives the brown recluse a fearsome reputation: These spiders are hard to see when they arrive, move around primarily at night, and may live alongside humans for a long time – including long enough to make an egg sac – without being noticed.
How to Kill Brown Recluse Spiders
If you find what you suspect is a brown recluse, you may have misgivings about getting too close. Fortunately, a solitary spider is easily killed. You can use a consumer pesticide spray, or make your own brown recluse spray out of a 1:1 vinegar and water solution that should do the job. However, if you are worried about an ongoing infestation or recurring appearances, then it's time to contact a professional. We can do a thorough inspection for worse problems, like a brown recluse egg sac that may have hatched and discuss options like pesticide barriers to discourage entry into your home.
What Attracts Brown Recluse Spiders?
As mentioned, these spiders love dark corners and unused spaces, and there are many spots around a home they can hide in. However, they need a way in first! Brown recluses are attracted to gaps and cracks in a house that they can hide in and explore. One of the best ways to prevent them is to make sure your home is fully sealed and insulated, and don't leave windows or doors open during the night.
The Southern House Spider vs Brown Recluse
Brown recluse spiders can be difficult to identify. Not only are they small, but they come in many shades of brown and can be mistaken for other spiders easily. A common example is the southern house spider: The male southern house spider is a little larger than a brown recluse and has a similar violin mark on its back, so it often sets off spider worries when discovered. The southern house spider is not as poisonous as a brown recluse, although it may be a sign that too many spiders are finding a way into your home.
What to Do If You Find a Brown Recluse Inside Your Home
If you're worried about what to do if a brown recluse is in your house, the first step is to stay calm! As their name implies, a brown recluse is not an aggressive species. Like scorpions, they are most often a threat if they make their way into shoes, gloves, drawers, or other areas where they are easily disturbed by humans.
You can remove or kill a brown recluse by yourself in most situations, with the spray mentioned above or your preferred method. It's also a good idea to give the room the spider was in a thorough vacuuming and cleaning. Watch for any cracks, gaps, or holes the spider may have been able to use to enter. If you start seeing multiple spiders, it's time to call EMCO for expert assistance.
How to Get Rid of Brown Recluse Spiders in the Garage
A final note about brown recluse spiders – their love of dark spaces combined with proximity to the outdoors means they may be more common in garages, sheds, and attics than inside the house itself.
If you are worried about potential brown recluse infestations, these are places that you should clean out and consider using pesticide barriers around. Avoid leaving clutter or debris around the garage, and make sure openings (like an AC drainage pipe, for example) are properly sealed. If you do have lumber or wood in these places, keep watch for spiders when handling it. Remember, the brown recluse is not quite as dangerous as its reputation suggests, and a little bit of caution goes a long way!