Are Brown Recluse Spiders Hiding in Your Home?

How much do you know about the brown recluse spider? How reclusive are they, do you think?

Let me be totally honest about that title question up there. Brown recluse spiders don’t hide from us anymore. They’re rather brazen these days, and weave their webs right out in the open.

Back when I first started working as a pest control technician I knew absolutely zero about brown recluse spiders other than the fact that they carried a fiddle shaped marking on their back.

I didn’t know a brown recluse spider from a violin.

I asked the company entomologist if brown recluse spiders lived in the Indianapolis area, because news articles said they only lived in southwestern states. But sometimes I don’t trust the news media all that much.

That bug guy told me that he’d found a few recluse spiders, but only in the basements of the city’s larger buildings, and already then only in very dark corners where people hardly ever went.

I took him for his information, and, since part of my job as a pest tech included visiting those very dark corners I looked at some pictures of brown recluse trying to familiarize my brain with what they look like.

Wasn’t long before I realized those picture studies were well worth the effort – and that sudden realization came not in a thorough, dark corner, but in a brightly lit, well traveled area.

Many warehouses have rodent problems, and to keep the mouse population down we used cardboard boxes with little round holes by their ends. Inside those bait boxes (that’s what we called them) we put a glue board, laying flat, or a associate blocks of mouse poison.

One day I serviced the warehouse of a major Indianapolis hospital. This particular building housed all of the hospital’s stored paper medical records and patient charts. The workers in the warehouse organized the records, filed them on stacks of shelves that covered the warehouse floor, and pulled records back out when doctors or nurses requested to see them.

I walked up the loading dock stairs, by the door into the warehouse, and picked up a bait box that sat on the floor next to that door. I opened the box up, and movement caught my eye. As my vision focused in on the source of that movement a clanging bell sound set off in my head.

…I dropped that box and jumped away from it just as fast as I jumped out of that old corvette I owned every time I failed to step far enough away from the door as I got out of the car – and my leg touched against the hot side pipe.

That movement was a brown recluse spider, my subconscious recognized it, and warned me to get away, already though my conscious mind took its time realizing what I looked at.

I got out a glue board, put it into the box, coaxed that spider onto the board, trapping the spider, and as I did another recluse jumped out at me from behind the bait block.

I captured the second spider too.

I didn’t see my life pass before my eyes that day. But I did check my pants to make sure they were nevertheless clean.

Since then I found brown recluse in my bathroom, and in my office. Only because I studied those pictures when I first became a pest control technician can I recognize these spiders as recluse. already then I only speculate, not until I see that fiddle shape am I truly sure. Of course, if you get close enough to see that violin while this spider is living, you’re way too close.

That warehouse visit was the moment when I understood that brown recluse spiders aren’t really all that reclusive.

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