Black Widow and Brown Recluse Spiders in the house? How do you get rid of these spiders naturally (without using conventional insecticides)?
If you didn't know, most spiders are pretty harmless, with a few exceptions (e.g., Yellow Sac, Tarantulas, Hobo Spiders, etc.). Say what you will about spiders, but they help keep other nuisance pests in and around your home at bay.
Spiders are arachnids (not insects), with eight legs, and come from the same family as ticks. But no matter how much good they do, who likes seeing spiders around the house (or ticks, for that matter)? As with all pests, if you put some preventive measures in place to help eliminate the conditions that make your home attractive to insect pests that spiders feed on, the spiders will also go elsewhere.
Your preventive efforts can do a lot to help minimize these spiders' presence indoors, and many things you can do can also help eliminate Black Widows and Brown Recluse spiders from your yard and garden.
Two Spiders to Watch Out For
Most spiders you find in your home (common house spiders and cellar spiders) are not a threat to you or your family. They have no imposing mouthparts and are unable to even pierce your skin. But let's discuss the two spiders in particular that you should be the most concerned about: The Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans) and the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). Let's also discuss how to get rid of them.
How to Identify Black Widows and Brown Recluse Spiders
What do Black Widows Look Like?
Black Widows usually live in warm climates and can be identified because of their striking black coloring and red hourglass markings on the abdomen. They can also be black or dark brown with rows of red, white, or yellow spots down the abdomen.
What do Black Widow Spider Bites Look Like?
Black Widow bites are very painful and toxic (though rarely fatal with proper treatment) and will leave two puncture wounds (left by the Black Widow's two fangs). The area around the bite can become red and swollen.
Where do Black Widow Spiders Live?
Black Widows are found around the globe (mainly in North and South America and southern Europe, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa), especially in regions where grapes are grown.
These spiders are often found in dark, secluded areas like in boxes, tool sheds, laundry rooms, underneath shelving, in and around firewood, in basement/attic/garage corners, closets, and other areas filled with clutter. They are known to spin webs during the day and are can frequently be found hanging upside down, and showing off their signature hourglass marking.
What do Brown Recluse Spiders Look Like?
Brown Recluse spiders also prefer warmer climates, and their colors range from tan to dark brown, with a distinguishing violin-shaped pattern on the back, near the head.
What do Brown Recluse Spider Bites Look Like?
Typically Brown Recluse bites will start as a small red blister (also rarely fatal with appropriate treatment), then develop into a larger open sore.
Most people don't feel Brown Recluse spider bites at first--they often don't even realize they've been bitten. If you do get bitten by a Brown Recluse and feel it, the spider's bite may sting at first, and then you might feel itching, irritation, burning, or pain around the area of the bite.
Bites from these spiders may cause fever and nausea. Brown Recluse spider bites can end up causing skin necrosis (dead, shedding skin) in the area of the bite.
Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?
Brown Recluse spiders are native to the continental United States and are most commonly found in the region ranging from Nebraska to Ohio, to down south across from Texas to Florida.
As their name indicates, Brown Recluse spiders are loners and they like their privacy. Out in the wild, these spiders are most often found underneath logs and stones, but most dark, quiet areas provide the kind of solitude Brown Recluse spiders love. This can make it difficult to find their lairs.
For obvious reasons, Brown Recluse spiders are not openly aggressive, though if you happen to disturb their solitude, watch out!
Indoor environments (i.e., your home!) are known to provide even better conditions to these spiders than their natural habitat. You will likely find Brown Recluse spiders in dry, dark, warm locations such as shoes, baseball mitts, boxes, clothing, furniture, bedding, and discarded rubber tires to name a few. You will also likely find them in storage areas such as closets, basements, cellars, attics, garage corners, etc., where there is not a lot of human traffic. Brown Recluse spiders are prolific breeders, so it's most likely that you won't find just one, but rather several all at once. Hundreds and even thousands have been reportedly found in a single structure.
What Attracts Spiders into Your House?
Where do you start working to keep the Black Widows and Brown Recluse spiders at bay? First of all, do you know what attracts spiders into your home to begin with? The best way to start managing spiders at home is to know why they move in.
Spiders are looking for:
Harborage Areas: Many spiders are stealthy hunters and love to slip in and out of cracks, crevices, wall voids, corners, underneath and behind furniture and appliances, etc.—anywhere they can move about, hide, and hunt undetected. Others build webs in corners and other areas where they feel safe and wait for their prey to come to them. Most spiders want to take shelter from cold or heat.
Other Insects: The presence of insects (the more, the better) is a huge draw for any spider, as they are a primary food source. Fewer insects mean fewer spiders.
Lights that Attract Other Insects: Lights that draw insects will also be a draw for local spiders.
What Keeps Black Widows and Brown Recluse Spiders Out of Your House?
Knowing what causes these spiders in your home makes it easier to know how to get rid of them.
Some basic spider prevention steps include:
Keeping garages, attics and basements clean and clutter-free (this actually helps reduce conditions that draw insects, too. Remember, no insects = no spiders).
Keep your screens repaired and close your fireplace flue (this reduces entry points).
Inspecting stored items, such as boxes and even grocery bags. Use fabric grocery bags and launder them regularly to further reduce ways spiders can sneak into your home.
So, How do You Get Rid of Black Widows and Brown Recluse Spiders Without Using Toxic Chemicals?
You don’t have to nuke these spiders with conventional pesticide sprays whenever you see one (though you might be tempted to).
In addition to the preventive steps mentioned above, here are some other ways you can help keep your home Black Widow- and Brown Recluse-free:
Black Widow Spider Control Tips
- To get rid of Black Widows, be sure to first get rid of all materials, clutter, and areas where they might hide (i.e., in storage areas, basements, garages, attics, etc.).
- Seal windows, doors, and other openings and install screens and door sweeps to help prevent Black Widows from heading indoors.
- Make it a habit to regularly dust and vacuum around windows, corners of rooms (floor and ceiling), and underneath furniture to remove Black Widows and their webs and egg sacs.
- Trim weeds and foliage around the foundation of your home/garage/storage shed, etc. and get rid of debris in your yard to deter Black Widows and the insects they feed on from living nearby.
- Don't go barefoot outdoors or in your basement, attic, garage crawl spaces, etc., and whenever gardening or handling debris or materials where Black Widows may harbor (firewood, landscaping materials, etc.), always wear gloves.
- Be extra careful when rummaging through stored boxes, tool boxes, garage shelves, etc.
Brown Recluse Spider Control Tips
- Inspect the exterior of your home for small openings and holes, vents, areas where utility pipes and cables enter, etc. Caulk holes and cracks, stuff gaps with steel wool, and place screens over vents as needed.
- Keep firewood stacked at least twenty feet away from your house, and at least five inches up off of the ground. Like with Black Widows, always garden and handle firewood, etc. with gloves on, and inspect it closely before bringing it inside.
- As with Black Widows, be careful when rummaging through boxes, toolboxes, shelving, etc. that have been in storage.
- Keep clothes stored inside sealed plastic containers and shake out all clothing that's been in storage, in the clothes hamper, or lumped on the floor before wearing/washing. Be extra careful before handling items not used regularly, like baseball mitts, skates, gloves, boots, etc.
Spot-treat using plant-based pest control products
Once you've put physical preventive measures in place, you may need to apply some sort of product. Pest control products that use natural plant oils as active ingredients are perfect for spot-treating for Black Widows and Brown Recluse spiders indoors and outdoors. You can use a contact spider killer spray to spray directly onto these spiders (and any other spiders or home/yard insect pests) for an immediate kill, and for some shorter-term residual protection by applying in and around potential entry points into a home. Plant oil-based pest control products also provide residual repellency.
Applying a residual yard spray around the home or structure will help eliminate any spiders that come in contact with the spray. It will also help reduce other insects which are the prime food source for Black Widows and Brown Recluses. Additionally, it provides a barrier of protection to keep these spiders (and other insects) away from the house.
For longer-term spider control, try Maggie's Farm Spider & Insect Dust as a preventive measure indoors and out.
Do Ultrasonic Pest Repellers work on spiders?
You may have heard about ultrasonic devices that range in price from $10 up to as much as $800. They are designed to send out high-frequency beeps and clicks that supposedly “chase away” bugs and other spiders. There is some evidence that they repel certain cricket species, but for the most part, there is no evidence that they are effective against spiders and other house pests. In short, these ultrasonic pest repellers are a waste of money.
What is a Good Spider Repellent?
The best spider repellents are insecticides with plant oil active ingredients that can be dusted or sprayed into wall areas, underneath, between, and behind appliances, in corners, along baseboards, etc. where the spiders will naturally walk. Spiders are repelled by the natural plant oils. A good spider repellent will remain effective as a repellent until the plant oils dissipate. Maggie's Farm Spider & Insect Dust keeps working even after the plant oils dissipate. The dust left behind remains a good desiccant.
If you have a Black Widow or Brown Recluse infestation at home, consult with a licensed pest management professional (PMP)
You can do a lot to help prevent and reduce Black Widows and Brown Recluse spiders in your home, but if you suspect a spider problem may be more than you can handle, you may consider hiring a licensed PMP to take action. If you can’t identify what kind of spider you’re dealing with, a PMP can help. You can also take a photo and send it to us! We’ll be happy to help you identify your unwanted houseguests!
For scientifically-proven, effective Black Widow and Brown Recluse control that is family-friendly and healthier for the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective family of green pest control products available. Find out why “Life’s Better On The Farm!”