How to recognize and treat an infestation with brown recluse spiders

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) – Lanier James will tell you it was a great summer for the brown recluse spider.

The owner and chief killer of James Pest Management in Memphis estimated that the venomous spider, native to the Middle South, could be found in up to 85 percent of households in the Middle South.

“They live in the house with you – in your walls, your attic boards, secluded places, hence the name,” James said. “They generally don’t come out unless they have an abundant source of food for ground-crawling insects.”

That’s the problem, said James.

He said a prevalence of vacant homes, empty foreclosures and poorly maintained properties in the Middle South has promoted an abundant food source for the spider, the bite of which can lead to necrosis of skin tissue in children or adults with weak immune systems. James’ exterminators have treated more than half a dozen brown recluse infestations since May.

“If you catch a brown recluse there is no need to be alarmed because they are native to this area,” he said. “But when you have this situation,” he said, showing a sticky monitor covered with large numbers of dead brown recluse spiders, “then you must act.”

Identify the brown recluse spider

James said the brown recluse has three sets of eyes. A mark near his head is shaped like a violin.


Since its source of food is ground-crawling insects, a consistent schedule of conventional pest control will limit the brown recluse’s food source and keep it away from your home, or at least in the most remote areas of your home.

James said the brown recluse also invades homes through holes in stone facades, cracked dashboards, gaps around electricity meters, and landscaping that are cropped too close to the home.

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


Once a pest control expert confirms that your home is infected with brown recluses, conventional treatment won’t be enough, James said. He said a team would normally have to drill and treat what he calls “empty entrances” – areas around the house where the brown recluse in the house is revealed. They include:

* Electrical switch panels

* Access to sink / stove / bathroom cabinet

* Loft floorboards

“Everyone is a crack, everyone is a crack to get in,” he said.

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

They learned the value of regular pest control, landscaping and caulking / caulking breaks in the Brown Hermitage.

“It’ll be great to have some peace of mind because they’re gone,” said Stan Brown.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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