TOPEKA (KSNT) – If you haven’t checked your basement or garage lately, it may have become the home for one of only two venomous spiders that pose a danger to humans.

Many residents of Kansas are probably familiar with the brown recluse spider and its dangerous bite. This species, alongside the infamous black widow, can pose a threat to people due to their powerful bites which can cause a variety of health problems.

KSNT 27 News spoke with Kansas State University Professor Raymond Cloyd with the Entomology Department to learn more about these spiders. Among other topics, he discussed how to prevent recluses from establishing a foothold in your home and how to identify the presence of a recluse population.

Why are brown recluses dangerous?

Brown recluses can deliver a venomous bite that is hemotoxic, according to resources from the K-State Research and Extension Office. Recluse bite’s can result in a bleeding, ulcerous wound which takes a long time to heal.

Brown recluses typically bite humans when defending themselves. This usually happens when one of the spiders is trapped against a person’s skin.

“If people don’t pay attention, their skin will start deteriorating,” Cloyd said. “There have been cases where people have had skin grafts after a bite. You need to take them seriously.”

The areas of the skin around the bite can break down and die, leading to a slow-healing wound and significant scarring, according to the K-State Research and Extension Office. Only in rare cases does a bite from a recluse lead to a life-threatening systemic illness. Bites can also lead to secondary infection, extending the healing process and the pain the victim endures.

Brown recluse bites are typically not noticed immediately, according to the K-State Research and Extension Office. Bites can lead to the development of a pimple that later becomes a red, swollen area over the next six to 12 hours.

If you think you’ve been bitten, put ice on the bite area and reach out to your healthcare provider immediately, according to the K-State Research and Extension Office. Treatment for individual bite victims can vary, but it is important to visit a healthcare provider quickly. It is also recommended that you capture the spider that caused the bite so it can be identified.

Are brown recluses in your home?

Cloyd said the brown recluse spider is prevalent throughout Kansas. Many people may not even realize they have brown recluses on their property unless they spot a male wandering around or if they start digging into cluttered areas.

Cloyd said the spiders can be recognized by a few different features that make them unique. Brown recluses are sometimes referred to as violin or cello spiders or fiddlebacks due to the pattern located on the spider’s body. Brown recluses are also the only spider to possess six eyes arranged in three pairs in a semicircle.

“They’ll go into areas where there’s a food source,” Cloyd said. “They feed on crickets and other small insects. As long as they have a food source, they’ll reside in it.”

Cloyd said places with large amounts of undisturbed clutter can become homes to brown recluses. Things like boxes, piles of papers, books or furniture can all present recluses with excellent hiding places, according to the K-State Research and Extension Office. The spiders hunt at night and seek dark, dry and warm hiding places during the day. A scarcity of food can push the spiders into other areas they would not typically be found in.

How can you remove brown recluses from your home?

Cloyd offered a few suggestions for proactively making sure brown recluses don’t show up in your home. First, he suggested removing clutter from your home to reduce places where the spiders can hide.

“Habitat manipulation is one way to prevent brown recluses from establishing in your home,” Cloyd said.

If you think brown recluses are already in your home, Cloyd recommended using sticky traps or glue boards to catch them. He said you should place these around baseboards in your home. He also said you should avoid using pesticides within your home to get rid of the spiders and instead rely on traps to keep their numbers down.

Regularly maintaining glue boards and sticky traps throughout the brown recluses’ most active periods of the year, from March through October, can keep their populations in check and keep you updated on how many are present in your home, according to the K-State Research and Extension Office. The use of insecticides or pesticides result in limited success as they are often applied in a haphazard or excessive manner and usually need to be applied directly on the spiders.