Clark’s gets probably 2 or 3 phone calls a week from desperate customers begging us to come out “right now” because they have found a brown recluse spider in their home. Most of these calls are from parents with small children, who are understandably concerned with their safety. We’d like to put your fears to rest.
The brown recluse spider is native only to a few southern states; and lucky for us, South Carolina is NOT one of them. The Clemson University Arthropod Museum contains 8 brown recluse specimens collected in South Carolina out of 8800 spider specimens dating from 1925. The range of the brown recluse spider is limited to the red area on this map. If you live outside this area, brown recluse spiders do NOT live in your state.
Map provided by Rick Vetter, University of California-Riverside. Used with permission.
Rick Vetter of the University of California challenged people to send him spiders they believed were brown recluses. Of 1,779 arachnid submitter from 49 states, only 4 brown recluse spiders came from outside its known range. One was found in a California home; the owners had just moved there from Missouri. The remaining three spiders were found in a shed in coastal Virginia. Attempts to find more brown recluses in the area came up empty, suggesting an isolated population of unknown origin.
Clark’s Staff Entomologist, Alan Wilson, says that in over 20 years of working as a structural entomologist he has never seen a brown recluse spider.
We also hear of a number of people who say “The doctor said it was a brown recluse spider bite.” According to the New England Journal of Medicine, diagnosing the bite of a brown recluse merely from the presence of a wound or ulcerating sore is impossible. Many medical conditions, some of which are far more common than spider bites even where recluses are common, can create an open sore, “rotting flesh”, a blister and redness, etc. Therefore, although you may have had a doctor diagnose your dermonecroses (literally “dying skin”) as caused by a spider, or a brown recluse bite, be aware that doctors throughout the United Sates have diagnosed “brown recluse bite” as the cause of wounds even in states where a brown recluse has NEVER been collected. Another study published in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine found that, in many cases, if a patient did not remember getting an injury, they assumed it was a spider bite. In fact, many times the wound was caused by bacteria called MRSA (methicillin resistance Staphylococcus aureus), which has become a significant health problem in parts of South Carolina.
So, now that you can breathe a little easier knowing your family is safe, we know what your next response is… “But I don’t want ANY spiders in my house!” Well, we don’t either! The following measures can be tried before chemical control is used:
-Discourage spiders by destroying the webs, egg sacs and spiders by brushing or vacuuming.
-Remove collections of paper, boxes, rubbish piles in the house, attic, storage areas, etc.
-Maintain household insect control. Lack of food will discourage spiders and force them to move elsewhere.
Blog by Customer Service Representative, Deborah Sox
”Under fire” Cartoon by Customer Service Representative, Matt Jeffcoat