Most people have heard of the brown recluse spider. For many people, the name can cause chills to go down their back. But what are they and how real is the danger?
What is a Brown Recluse Spider?
The brown recluse spider is exactly what its name implies – a recluse. They are very shy, sedentary, and non-aggressive spiders who have gotten a bad rap. They can generally be identified by their eyes. The brown recluse spider has 6 eyes, which is very rare in spiders. They are more commonly identified by the violin shaped brown spot on their backs. They tend to live approximately one to two years and reproduce between May and July. The female spider will generally produce several egg sacs during this timeframe. Brown recluse spiders DO have a potentially deadly venomous bite, which is why they are so feared.
Where Are They Located?
The brown recluse spider is native to North America. They are more likely to be found roaming homes in the Central Midwestern states south to the Gulf of Mexico. Despite rumors to the contrary, the brown recluse spider has not established itself in California nor anywhere outside its native range. However, you can still have a brown recluse spider in your home no matter where you live due to them climbing into boxes and crates that are shipped from their native habitat to other areas.
Why are they in My House?
There are many places in the home that invite the brown recluse spider to stay. Houses are a feeding ground for generally any type of spider due to them being an optimal environment for their survival. There are cold, dark basements, dry, dusty garages and hot, humid attics. People store clothing, linens, books and shoes in closets and garages for long periods of time. Furniture has lots of nooks and crannies in which to hide and is in every room of the house. We have, in a sense, created the perfect living environment for them.
The brown recluse spider enjoys hiding in the dark during the day and comes out at night to find food, weave their webs, and make their nests. They are drawn to artificial light, which spiders know other insects are drawn to. Spiders make their way indoors in search of food. Human flesh is not part of their diet. Brown recluse spiders generally are found in:
- Shoes and clothing that has not been worn for awhile
- Under or inside furniture
- Vents and heating ducts
- Corners and cracks
What Are My Chances Of Being Bitten?
The changes of being bitten are actually slim. There have been many recorded cases of the brown recluse spiders living in homes for years without an incidence of the humans being bitten. The brown recluse spider only bites when it feels threatened or winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thirty eight percent of bites happen when the spider decides to take a detour through the bed while being slept in. Another 38% of bites occur when clothing is put on that that has not been worn for a while. Keep in mind that pets can also be susceptible to spider bites too!
There is no record for how many bites occur every year because physicians rush to blame the spider and often the ailment turns out to be altogether different. In fact, 80% of reported bites are actually misdiagnosed. There are over 15 diseases and illnesses that mimic the same signs and symptoms of the brown recluse spider bite including Lyme disease, bacterial and fungal infections, MRSA and even herpes.
Help! I’ve Been Bitten!
Though these spiders do pack a venomous punch – children, people with compromised health, and the elderly are more susceptible to the toxic venom. While 49% of people who have been bitten will have little to no reaction at all to the bite, 37% of people who have been bitten can expect to have a necrotic area form –the rotting away of the exterior surface of the skin that may leave a scar. Approximately 14% of people who have been bitten will experience nausea, vomiting, fever, rashes, and muscle and joint pain. Less than 1% of people who have been bitten have died and these have sadly mostly been children under the age of 7 and people with weak immune systems.
Most recluse spider bites are initially painless and signs and symptoms often do not show up for 24 hours after the bite. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and joint pain. Brown recluse spider bites can be serious because the venom is hemotoxic, which is a toxin that destroys red blood cells. As a result, the toxic venom can be carried throughout the body and become a systemic issue. It’s important to seek medical attention if a brown recluse spider bite is suspected.
Bentonite Clay for Brown Recluse Spider Bites
We have talked to several people that have used calcium bentonite clay for brown recluse spider bites. Ideally, the area can be treated with a poultice externally and also drank to remove any toxins that may be circulating in the body. One man described putting a calcium bentonite clay poultice on the site of the puncture before seeking medical attention. Once at the medical office, the doctor removed the clay poultice and gently squeezed the perimeter of the wound. Both patient and doctor were astonished when a sac of venom popped out of the wound!
Of course, it’s most convenient to have hydrated clay such as our Wound Warrior on hand for just such emergencies. Clay poultices can also be used for burns, cuts, scratches, scrapes and other insect bites. To make a poultice, mix 1 part calcium bentonite clay to 1 part water and mix until a thick paste is formed. Immediately apply to the wound site and cover with damp gauze to keep hydrated until medical attention is sought. Our Drinking Powder is mixed 1 part clay to 8 parts water in a glass or plastic bottle, and shaken well. Drink one to two ounces daily, shaking the bottle each time before consuming.
You needn’t go through life fearing something as unlikely as being bitten by a brown recluse spider. It is important, however, to know the symptoms and what to do should you or a loved one become a victim of this elusive insect. Having calcium bentonite clay on hand can go a long way towards stopping problems in their track.