The Truth about Brown Recluse Spiders

When most people think of spiders that can pose a threat to humans, they probably think of theblack widow, which is infamous for its red hourglass marking and painful bites. But a different spider species, known as the brown recluse, can pose serious health threats, too. This spider is less familiar to many Americans because, as their name suggests, they prefer to remain out of sight. However, many homeowners encounter brown recluses more frequently in the fall months, as they enter our homes seeking shelter from the colder weather.

The Truth about Brown Recluse Spiders

Identifying Brown Recluse Spiders

Brown recluse spiders are tan to dark brown in color, and between ¼ and ½ inches long. Like all spiders, they have eight legs and a round body. Most brown recluse spiders also have a darker, violin-shaped marking on their dorsum. They are found in the Central Midwest, from Ohio to Nebraska and south through Texas and Georgia.

Brown recluse spiders feed on small live prey such as insects. Outside, brown recluse spiders are typically found around rocks, utility boxes and woodpiles or under bark. Indoors, they can be found in any undisturbed area, such as inside boxes, among papers, in seldom-used clothing and shoes, under furniture, or in crevices such as baseboards and window moldings. Closets, attics, crawl spaces and basements are the most common hiding areas.

Understanding the Threat

Brown recluse spiders are not aggressive by nature, and typically run for cover when disturbed. However, these spiders are known to bite when they feel trapped. In many cases, a person is bit when they unknowingly disturb a brown recluse, for example, while moving storage boxes in a basement or putting on a piece of clothing that has a spider hiding in it.

Both female and male brown recluse spiders can bite and inject venom, making them a danger to humans. The bite is usually not felt, but results in a stinging sensation, followed by intense pain that develops as long as six to eight hours later. A small blister usually develops at the bite location, and the surrounding area may become swollen. Dead tissue around the bite may peel away leading to a deep, open ulcer that can take three or more weeks to heal, resulting in dense scar tissue. Restlessness, fever and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms.

The venom injected during a bite can lead to a severe allergic reaction, especially in children, the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions. If you suspect you or a family member has been bitten by a brown recluse spider, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.  There is no anti-venom available in the United States to counteract the poisonous venom of the brown recluse spider bite, but a doctor may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics to keep the bite from becoming infected. In severe cases, plastic surgery may be required to rectify scaring.

Preventing Brown Recluse Spiders

So what can you do to prevent brown recluse spiders from taking up residence in your home? To begin, inspect the outside of your home for any small openings or holes, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the home. Seal any such openings with a silicone caulk to prevent spiders and other insects from gaining access inside.

Stack firewood at least twenty feet from your home and five inches up off of the ground, to deter spiders from hiding out in the wood. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when moving the wood, and inspect it carefully before bringing indoors.

Store clothes and shoes inside plastic containers and shake out all clothing that have been in a hamper, on the floor or in storage before wearing. Use extra cautionwhen handling items that are not used often, such as boots, baseball mitts, skates and gloves.

Using Insect Repellents Safely- Tips from the EPA

For the safe and effective use of pesticide products, always read the product label before using the product. Apply just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Remember these important points to use repellents safely:

  • Follow the label directions to ensure proper use.
  • Repellents should be applied only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not use under clothing.
  • Store insect repellents safely out of the reach of children, in a locked utility cabinet or garden shed.
  • Do not apply near eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around ears.
  • When using sprays, do not spray directly into face; spray on hands first and then apply to face.
  • Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Do not spray in enclosed areas. Avoid breathing a spray product, and do not use it near food.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin and clothes with soap and water.
  • Do not use any product on pets or other animals unless the label clearly states it is for animals.
  • Most insect repellents do not work on lice or fleas.
  • Use other preventive actions to avoid getting bitten .
  • Read more about active ingredients.


Pack rats are a relatively minor structure infesting pest; however, they can carry disease and

ectoparasites and they can also do damage to wiring and landscaping.

The key to pest management is to deny them shelter and nesting sites. Follow these steps:

  • Avoid storage boxes and other items that may give shelter to pack rats on patios or along the sides of buildings and walls.
  • Store fire wood off the ground and away from any wall or other obstruction.
  • Keep carports clear of stored items to eliminate hiding places.
  • If pack rats have been in a car engine compartment, have it steam cleaned to destroy the scent and leave the hood open at night. Leaving the carport light on at night will help.
  • Rodent-proof/exclude all possible entry points; be sure the pack rat is not trapped inside the building!
  • A pack rats  can squeeze through a half-inch hole.
  • Be sure doors fit correctly and have door sweeps.
  • Be sure windows are screened properly.
  • Exhaust fans and ventilation vents on the roof/attic level should be Screened.
  • Keep ground covering plants cut/mow low to the ground.
  • Do not allow Agaves, Aloe, Yuccas and other cacti to grow in tight groups.
  • Do not allow a skirt of dead branches to form on Agaves and Yuccas.
  • Keep the bases trimmed.
  • Thin out dense cactus and landscape plantings.
  • Trim off any paddles that turn sideways providing overhead shelter.


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Arizona Pest Control has received reports that termites are swarming heavily in Tucson, Arizona. According to Arizona Pest Control Operations Manager Josh Tennenbaum, “Termites are swarming like crazy with all the recent rainfall we have received.”

Arizona Pest Control proposes several tips to avoid termite infestations:

  • As most termites are attracted to moisture, avoid water accumulation near your home’s foundation.  Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
  • Quickly repair house damage from a leaky roof or window as termites can thrive in this moisture.
  • Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard, especially near the building.  Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building.
  • Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil.  Maintaining a 1-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.


Recognizing the destruction termites can cause, it is important to be aware of infestation warning signs:

  • Swarming of winged forms in the fall and spring – termites can easily be confused with flying ants.
  • Evidence of mud tunneling in, over and under wood structures
  • Wooden structures exhibit darkening or blistering
  • Damaged wood becomes extremely thin and can be easily punctured by a knife or a screwdriver

As termites are known to cause over $5 billion dollars in damage each year, virtually all experts recommend calling a pest professional to protect one of your most important investments, your home, from termite infestation.

Professionals offer the specialized skills necessary to rid a home of termite infestation: knowledge of building construction, an ability to identify termite species and the knowledge of applicable methods of termite control. Contact us today at 520-886-PEST and schedule a free termite inspection. Arizona Pest Control recommends annual termite inspections to protect your property from damage.

Tucson Termite Control

Are you interested in Arizona Pest Control’s Fun Facts Coloring Book for your kid(s)? It is filled with educational information about desert pests, and the beneficial bugs in Southern Arizona. If you would like a free coloring book for your kids or younger family members/relatives simply email me at with the subject line “Coloring Book” and make sure you include your mailing address in the message. We will send you the coloring book for free, and they are loaded with a ton of useful information. #Tucson #Sahuarita #Vail #OroValley #GreenValley #Marana #Saddlebrooke #Community #Education

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Order Hemiptera Family Lygaeidae

This a seed eating bug. They can fly but usually just run around on ground seeking food.

Order Hymenoptera Family Ichneumonidae  This is a parasitic wasp that seeks out insets, especially caterpillars to parasitize. It is quite harmless, one of nature’s population controls for the insect world.

Order Coleoptera Family Dermestidae Genus Anthrenus  Common name Dermestid beetle Stored product insects.

Scorpions are members of the arthropod class Arachnida, which also includes spiders, daddy-long-legs, and mites.

Like other arachnids, scorpions have 2 body segments (cephalothorax and abdomen), no antennae, 4 pairs of legs, and fang-like mouthparts called “chelicerae.”   Although the pincers of a scorpion resemble legs, they are “pedipalps,” which are actually mouthparts.  All arachnids have pedipalps, but on most arachnids the pedipalps resemble antennae.  Scorpions are equipped with a venomous stinger located on the end of the abdomen.  Most scorpions have 6 to 12 tiny eyes.

No scorpion should be picked up with bare hands.  Like spiders, scorpions should instead be “herded” into a container when captured. If a scorpion is found on one’s body, it should be brushed off and never swatted.  If scorpions are seen frequently in a home or property, the owner should contact a pest professional to remove the infestation and identify and seal entry points into the structure.

Most scorpions are not very dangerous to people, but there are a few species in the western United States that can be deadly.

Scorpions feed on a wide range of small animals including crickets, spiders, caterpillars, and centipedes. They have very poor vision so they often lie in wait for prey, grabbing anything that wanders into their area. Development from birth to the adult stage may take more than a year. Mature individuals, up to 2-5/8 inches long, may live for another 2 years.

Crumbling rock faces, brick walls, crawl spaces, leaf-covered areas, and log piles are favorite habitats. Scorpions are most likely to be seen in or around houses from April through June but can be active until fall. Dense ground cover, such as leaf litter or mulches, tall grass, wood piles, or general clutter provide excellent protection for scorpions and the small creatures that they eat.

Encounters occur when people disturb scorpions’ “shelters”. Scorpions are not aggressive but will raise their pinchers and tail in an attempt to scare away anything that bothers them. They will strike if touched or accidentally grabbed.

Venom is produced by a pair of glands located near the end of the tail and is injected into its victim by the stinger. The sensation is a sharp pain that usually lasts for 15 to 20 minutes.

Reactions may vary depending on age or sensitivity of the individual and the amount of venom injected.

Adult reactions may include:

- Immediate pain or burning

- Swelling

- Sensitivity to touch

- A numb/tingling sensation

- Rapid breaking

Persons stung during early March or April by scorpions just emerging from their winter hiding places may have pain that lasts for several hours, plus a general numbness in the area.  Scorpion stings may be red or slightly swollen.  Adults should seek medical attention if they begin to experience widespread symptoms.

Reactions can be more severe, and dangerous in children.  If children are stung, adults should immediately seek medical attention.

Children reactions may include:

- Intense pain or tingling but little to no swelling

- Muscle twitching or thrashing

- Unusual head, neck and eye movements

- Drooling

- Sweating

- Restlessness or excitability and sometimes inconsolable crying

Scorpions can be accidental invaders in homes and buildings where they may crawl into or under any object that affords some protection. Gaps around doors are a major entryway for them. You can prevent entry by sealing and weather stripping around thresholds and plugging gaps where utilities (wire and pipes) enter the structure. Then follow up with a major cleanup to eliminate as many potential scorpion hiding places as possible.

It is best to do this in the fall or winter, before scorpions become active in early spring.

During the summer, be careful when picking up objects. Don’t forget to look at the undersurface. Shoes and clothing should be shaken out and inspected before getting dressed. Legs on cribs or tables can be placed in wide-mouthed jars since scorpions cannot climb on clean glass. Scorpions on the body should be brushed off and never swatted.

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