How to spot and treat a brown recluse spider infestation - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Brown Recluse Spiders: spot 'em, treat 'em, stop 'em

How to spot and treat a brown recluse spider infestation

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Lanier James will tell you it's been a banner summer for the brown recluse spider.

The owner and chief exterminator of James Pest Management in Memphis estimated the venomous spider, which is indigenous to the Mid-South, may be in as much as 85 percent of Mid-South homes.

"They live in the house with you -- inside your walls, your attic boards, reclusive places, hence its name," James said. "They generally do not come out unless they have an abundant food source of ground-crawling insects."

Therein lies the problem, said James.

He said a prevalence of vacant homes, empty foreclosures and ill-maintained properties in the Mid-South has fostered an abundant food source for the spider, whose bite can cause necrosis of skin tissue in children or in adults with weak immune systems. James' exterminators have treated more than a half-dozen brown recluse infestations since May.

"If you capture one brown recluse, there's no reason to get excited because they are indigenous to this area," he said. "But when you have this situation," he said, displaying a glue monitor covered in a high body count of dead brown recluse spiders, "this is when you have to take action."


James said the brown recluse has three sets of two eyes. A marking near its head is shaped like a violin.


Since its food source is ground-crawling insects, a consistent schedule of conventional pest control will limit the brown recluse's food source, keeping it away from your home or at least within your home's reclusive areas.

James said the brown recluse also invades homes through holes in stone exteriors, cracked fascia boards, gaps around utility meters and landscaping cropped too closely to the house.

"Bushes and trees too close to your house are a highway for the brown recluse," he said. "Keep them a good 18 inches to two feet away."


Once a pest control expert confirms your home has a brown recluse infestation, conventional treatment is not enough, said James. He said a team must typically drill and treat what he calls "void accesses" -- areas around the house where the brown recluse reveals itself inside the home. They include:

* Electrical switch-plates

* Sink/stove/bathroom cabinet accesses

* Attic floor boards

"Every one's a crack, every one's a crevice that they can get in," he said.

Stan and Shirley Brown bought a foreclosure in Lakeland, Tennessee, last November, unaware that brown recluse spiders had infested the long-vacant house. James Pest Management treated their infestation.

They learned the value of regular pest treatment, landscaping maintenance and the caulking/sealing of brown recluse breaches.

"It's going to be great having some peace about...that they're gone," Stan Brown said.

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