The Dreaded Brown Recluse - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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The Dreaded Brown Recluse

Hi all -

I moved to Missouri from Maryland about four months ago. Today, when I lifted up a rug to vacuum under it, I had the dubious joy of discovering the carcass of a brown recluse spider. Because the fiend was dead, I had the luxury of taking my time in identifying it and, yep. Recluse.

Okay. I am trying not to panic needlessly, but for those of you who live in recluse territory, how worried about this should I be? Right now I do a good vacuuming once a week, going around the floor boards and under furniture. I just bought some sticky traps to put out so I can at least try to figure out how extensive the issue is (and figuring out where to put those when you have a four month old kitten is a battle in and of itself). I'm a little worried because my apartment building is very old, and there are some serious grand canyon cracks between the floorboards and the wall, perfect for the little devils to hide out in no matter how vigorously I vacuum.

While I part of me wants to drop everything and find a new apartment ASAP, I feel that that's an expensive undertaking that isn't a real solution - I've heard that in recluse territory up to 80% of buildings have them *somewhere*, so moving every time I see one just doesn't seem like a feasible solution. But I'm so worried about the cats. I'm afraid they'll get bit. I'm going out of town over Labor Day, and I have someone coming in to check on them once a day, but what if something happens while I'm gone? What is the little eight-legged bastards kill us all in our sleep?

I know that people and pets can and do live in recluse country, even though they are extremely difficult to exterminate completely. How do you handle this?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 04:39 PM
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I don't mean to worry you needlessly, but it's likely you didn't find a "dead" recluse, but a shed exoskeleton - they crawl out of their old skin and leave it behind when they get bigger. Also confirm it's a brown recluse be making sure it has eight eyes (lots of lookalike spiders only have 6).

Recluses are rare/non-existent here, but we have quite a few black widows and I assume it's kind of the same bit of advice. Keep corners clean, don't reach into any dark places or the backs of shelves where one may be hiding, shake out your shoes before putting them on, etc.

I'd suggest leaving the lights on in your house while you leave, except close off a single room and keep it dark. Since recluses are nocturnal, this will encourage them to stay in the dark room while you're away. If you can stand it, you could also try collecting some larger jumping spiders (or huntsmen, if you have them) and releasing them inside - they're not dangerous to people and they will hunt recluses.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 07:33 PM
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from there--yeah it's bugland. i remember seeing all different kinds and my sister and i had spider bites from time to time but i doubt if any were brown recluse. just keep an eye out but try not to worry excessively. we always had cats and not one of them was ever bitten (or at least had a noticeable problem if they were).

they won't kill you, they just have a nasty bite. you're right, you would never be able to live anywhere there if you moved every time you saw a bug, just make sure there's an exterminator on the premises on a regular basis. they make pet friendly insectides as well, or you can make them aware than you have a cat and sometimes they can manage to put it places where the cat doesn't go. (or you can take steps to make it really inaccessible to kitty.)

i would only move if there appeared to be a severe infestation--and trust me, you'll know if there is. unfortunately, some landlords are less than conscientious. it's been my experience that if they are, it usually isn't only about one issue and it was easier for me to relocate than to fight with a stubborn owner who refused to keep up with basic maintenance issues.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 08:18 PM
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@ Jacq- I think Brown Recluse spiders are the ones with 6 eyes, while most spiders have 8

For more assurance in identification it is imperative to examine the eyes. Most spiders have eight eyes; recluse spiders have six eyes arranged in pairs (dyads) with one median pair and two lateral pairs. Only a few other spiders have three pairs of eyes arranged in this way.
Brown recluse spider - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 09:48 PM
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Ah, you're right Rach, I must've gotten mixed up (was on the phone at the time). Thanks for catching that!

It's the weird Geordie La Forge / Robocop look that's distinctive too.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2012, 03:26 AM
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Is it true that if they look you in the eye, you turn to stone?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2012, 08:26 PM
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Yet one more reason why I love winters in Wisconsin!!!!!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-12-2012, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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I'm from Wisconsin and right now I so want to go running back. -_- If only I didn't need this job...
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-15-2012, 01:01 AM
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I guess it was last year that I found my cat playing with one in the bathtub. I freaked out and called my vet. It was like 3am when I found her. So glad they have an answering service!

My old house was full of them and you were right. There is no way to get rid of them. Every time I would feel something on my leg, I hoped it was cat whiskers and not a spider!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-15-2012, 09:28 AM
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Spiders give me the creeps. I have been bitten & had bad reactions (once by a brown recluse & it was nasty- had to go to the doctor for treatment-the venom kills the skin).

The best remedy is vacuum, vacuum vacuum (& throw out the bags). Vacuum the corners of the walls too & if you see any webs. Also make sure there is space between your furniture and the wall, so you can vacuum there too.

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