This is the definitive guide on how to get rid of brown recluse spiders in your home and property without getting any venomous brown recluse bites.
Thousands of our readers have used the steps laid out on this post only to see brown recluse spiders in their homes never again.
In this guide, you’ll learn –
- How to identify a brown recluse spider
- Why brown recluse spiders sneak inside your home
- Where they hide
- How to get rid of them, safely, like a pro
- How to prevent a brown recluse infestation
Plus, you’ll find answers to all your questions related to the brown recluse spiders.
Let’s dive in.
Brown Recluse Spiders – Identification
It can be tricky to identify a brown recluse spider, especially when you’re a resident of California. It’s because the California recluse spider looks like the brown recluse.
But there are certain features in the anatomy of the brown recluse spider that separates from other spiders.
Brown recluse spiders are brown. There are no blemishes, spots, or stripes in its body. But the spider can have different shades of brown, from dark to light. At times they can be yellowish-brown too.
Violin Shape Marking On The Thorax
The brown recluse has a violin shape or fiddle shape mark on its head. Because of this mark, the brown recluse spider is also known as the fiddle-back spider.
But it’s not always visible on every brown recluse because it can be too faint to detect on some.
Plus, other species of spiders also have distinctive violin-shaped marks on their bodies. For example, some black widow spider has a red violin shape mark on its abdomen.
Size Of The Brown Recluse Spider
From the tip of the head to the end of its abdomen, the brown recluse spider’s size is always less than half an inch.
The female brown recluse is bigger than the male brown recluse spider. The males grow up to a quarter of an inch in length.
These sites are independent of the brown recluse’s legs. They’ve got eight legs and six eyes paired in groups of two.
If you see a spider bigger than half an inch in size, then be assured that it’s not a brown recluse spider despite being brown.
Outdoors, brown recluse spiders live underneath rocks, in the foliage, or underneath woodpiles. They can also hide underneath the bark of trees.
These spiders avoid moist and damp areas. So, it’s unlikely that you’ll come across them near ponds, lakes, or streams.
The states where the brown recluse spiders are common are –
Homes in these states report brown recluse spider infestation often, especially during the peak of the summer months.
So, what causes brown recluse spiders to sneak inside homes?
Let’s find it out.
What Attract Brown Recluse Spiders To Your Home
The two primary attractors that draw brown recluse spiders to your home are searching for new hiding places and bugs that they can hunt.
However, weather can sometimes play a role in making them look for alternate shelters.
Despite preferring dry places and weather, brown recluse spiders are not fond of extreme heat.
If the weather outdoors gets scorching, these spiders will look for a milder hiding place. That’s the time when they can sneak inside your home as well.
Heavy rains can also make them crawl inside your home, looking for a drier place to live.
In the winters, brown recluse spiders look for a secluded place to overwinter with very little to no human activity.
The presence of bugs and female brown recluse spiders can shoot up the number of brown recluse spiders in your home.
The bugs are their prey, and the female brown recluse will attract the male recluse spiders in your home.
What Time Of The Year Are Brown Recluse Spider Active?
Brown recluse spiders are primarily active from March to October. After October, they overwinter, so their sightings become rare.
They enter homes by crawling through the cracks on the walls, windows, and doors. Vents in the attic and holes on the utility lines are also entry points of these spiders.
Keep in mind that they can remain hidden inside your home during the winters, overwintering and waiting for spring to arrive.
How Do You Know If You Have Brown Recluse Spider Infestation
There are typically five signs of brown recluse infestation –
- Sightings of the brown recluse spider
- Spun cobwebs in tight spaces like cracks and gaps that are hard to reach
- Presence of silken egg sacs
- Molted shed skin
- Tiny brown recluse babies
These signs of infestation can be hard to detect. It’s because the brown recluse doesn’t multiply as fast as other pests. And they hide in the clutter and hard-to-reach places.
Brown recluse spiders hide in dark and dingy places with clutter and less human activity.
So, places like the basement, attic, garage, and storage areas like storage rooms are their go-to places to hide.
They’ll hide inside the clutter in these places and also in the wall voids and crevices. Clutter in places where you spend time, like your bedroom, attracts spiders.
Cardboard boxes are also favorite places for all species of home spiders, including the brown recluse.
Books, old newspapers, magazines stuffed inside the cardboard boxes make it a perfect home for spiders to hide and even keep their egg sacs.
There’s a sudden appearance of baby brown spiders when these egg sacs hatch. If there was an egg sac in your cluttered bedroom, the little recluse spiders can even show up on your bed.
But baby spiders are harmless.
When brown baby recluses grow, they shed their skin multiple times until adulthood. The process is known as molting.
Hence, if there’s a brown recluse spider infestation in your home, you will also notice small discarded spider skins in their hiding places.
Brown recluse spiders are nocturnal. They hunt during the night, and unlike cobweb house spiders, they don’t spin webs to hunt their prey.
However, they build their retreats by spinning a clumsy web in the tight wall voids, inside old shoes, and in furniture cracks.
How To Get Rid Of Brown Recluse Spiders Safely (Natural Ways Included)
The approach to eliminating brown recluse spiders is quite simple. Remove their hiding places and food sources, and you solve 90% of the problem.
So, let’s find out how you can free your home from a brown recluse infestation with the help of some natural products and some insecticide sprays.
But before we begin, there are a few safety precautions you need to take. While getting rid of these spiders, wear shoes and full sleeves shirt.
Tuck the trousers into the socks. Do not wear shorts.
While getting rid of brown recluse spiders, you expose yourself to the risk of brown recluse bites.
You’ll find out much more about brown recluses in a minute. For now, let’s get back to the topic.
Here are the five steps to eliminate brown recluse spiders in your home.
Clean The Clutter To Remove Their Hiding Places
Begin with a vacuum cleaner in your hand and head into places where the brown recluse hides.
Clean up the clutter in these places. Remove all the old cardboard boxes, shoes, books, and paper piles lying around.
In doing so, you’ll come across a brown recluse spider or their egg sacs. Use the vacuum cleaner to suck up the spider and its egg sac.
Remember, never touch the spider, nor try to squish it under your shoes.
You can also carry a spider catcher with you to catch the spider, just in case you come across the spider.
If your basement and storage room have any furniture, pull the furniture a foot away from the wall.
Check the rear side of the furniture for hiding brown recluses. Also, check any drawers for their presence.
Check the drawers of the furniture and its rear sides for any spiders. If you find any spider, then use a bug catcher or a vacuum cleaner to remove the spider.
Point to Note: If there’s clutter in your bedroom, then the mess can draw the spiders in your bedroom too.
There are many instances where people have come across brown recluse spiders inside the closets of their bedrooms.
Use Insecticide Spray On The Hiding Spider
Clearing the clutter won’t go far if you don’t eliminate the spiders hiding in the cracks and crevices on the walls and furniture.
Focus a torchlight in those voids to find any hiding brown recluse spider. You can use a spider spray directly on the spider to kill it.
It’s essential to spray the spider spray on the spider to eliminate brown recluse spiders in your home.
The reason is that brown recluse spiders can avoid the pesticide sprays on the floor and elsewhere by detecting it with their long legs.
That’s why even sprays with high residual toxicity fail to kill brown recluse spiders unless you spray it right on them.
Use Spider Sticky Traps
Some spiders can be sneaky and hide deeper into your home while you’re getting rid of them.
To catch those spiders, use sticky spider traps. Strategically keep these traps near the baseboards of your floor or at the edges of the attic and basement.
Spiders walk along the edges of the room more often than crawling in the middle of the room.
And these glue straps work great in catching the hiding brown recluse, especially the female brown recluses carrying eggs.
Some spider glue traps have pheromone smells that draw the spiders from hiding. Some are poisonous, which kills the spiders too.
Read the labels of the traps and choose what fits better for you.
Scatter Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a natural bug killer, and it kills the brown recluses.
Diatomaceous earth works by penetrating the exoskeleton of spiders and absorbing the moisture that keeps them alive.
It’s not an instant spider killer, though. After coming in touch with the spider, it’ll take 2-3 days to kill the spider.
So, scatter diatomaceous earth in their hiding places and wait for a couple of days to see results.
Pro Tip: Do not use foggers or bug bombs to get rid of spiders or any bugs inside your home. They’re ineffective dangerous, and at times, they make the infestation worse.
Insecticide sprays, spider traps, and diatomaceous earth can have harmful effects on adults, children, and pets. Read the safety instructions on the labels before using them and keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Get Rid Of Bugs And Insects In Your Home
Brown recluse spiders hunt and eat bugs and insects in your home. Though they’re helping you by eating up the bugs, you don’t want in your home. You must eliminate their food to get rid of these spiders.
So, get rid of bugs like crickets, roaches, and silverfish, which the brown recluse loves to eat.
How To Keep Brown Recluse Spiders Away From Your Home
All of your efforts to get rid of brown recluse spiders will come to naught if you don’t take the steps necessary to keep them away.
Here’s what you can do to prevent these spiders from coming back.
Clean Your Yard
You can’t deny that spiders sneak inside your home from the outdoors.
And if your yard provides the brown recluse spiders an ideal habitat, then it’s only a matter of time before they’ll enter your home.
So, clean your yard of all the debris, rotting pieces of wood, foliage, and useless rocks and stones.
Check your firewood pile for any hiding spider. And if you find any, use a spider spray on it to kill it.
Seal Gaps And Cracks In Your Home
Spiders and many home-invading bugs sneak inside your home by crawling through the crevices that develop on the wall, windows, and doors.
Seal those gaps with a quality sealant. Silicone-based sealants are suitable because they’re sturdy, and bugs can’t chew through them.
Also, cover any vents on the attic, basement, chimneys, and HVACs with a shield with fine mesh.
Spiders can crawl through these vents. A shield with mesh prevents spiders (and many flying bugs) from sneaking inside your home through these places. And the mesh doesn’t obstruct the ventilation either.
Also, use weather stripping to cover the gaps between the floor and the doors. That’ll prevent the spiders from crawling through underneath the door.
You can also use weather stripping to cover the gaps on the windows.
Spray Essential Oils
Essential oils like peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil are natural spider repellents. But essential oils don’t kill spiders.
All species of spiders hate the strong smell of these oils, and they avoid them like the plague.
Put 7-10 drops of any one of these oils with half a gallon of water and mix it well. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
Spray it in places where spiders can hide inside your home.
Grow Plants That Repel Spiders
Certain plants emit spider repelling smells. Plants like lemongrass, lavender, and catnip are a few of them.
Grow these plants in your yard. You can also keep a few of them as potted plants inside your home.
Brown Recluse Spider Bites
Brown recluse spiders, like most spiders, are shy, and they avoid humans. But at times, brown recluse spiders can bite you.
Brown recluse spiders contain venom. And this venom is harmful to humans and pets.
But the venom isn’t deadly. Brown recluse spider bite can’t kill you, but these spiders have caused only 2-3 recorded deaths in the last decade.
The brown recluse spider bite is painless. When the brown recluse bites you, you feel a slight pinch.
But over time, the bite wound gets worse. The bite wound will develop skin necrosis unless you take treatment on time.
So, if a brown recluse spider bites you, use an ice pack on the bitten area and see the doctor asap.
What To Do If You Find A Brown Recluse Spider In Your House?
Do not panic, and do not try to handle the spider. Don’t try to kill the spider as it can become ugly.
Use a bug catcher to catch the brown recluse spider and dispose of it outside your property.
Or take a vacuum cleaner and use it on the spider. Dispose of the vacuum dust bag with the spider inside it far from your property.
When Should You Call A Pest Controller To Get Rid Of Brown Recluse Spider
The steps you learned in this post are reasonable enough to remove the brown recluse spider infestation in your home.
However, if you’ve found one brown recluse spider in your home, there can be more.
And during the treatment, some of them might escape and hide, only to reappear in a few days. In that case, it’ll be best if you hire a pest controller to at least inspect your home.
You can spot and get rid of brown recluse spiders in your home by following the 5-step guide in this post.
This guide also has steps to keep brown recluse spiders away from your home and property.
While getting rid of these spiders, you must take appropriate safety measures. It’s because the brown recluse will get aggressive and can bite you.
So, go ahead and implement these steps. And please do share this article to help others to get rid of brown recluses in their homes.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.