I just killed a brown recluse spider in my bathroom sink. I got up to go to the bathroom. I put soap on my hands and as I stuck them in the sink the spider ran out of the drain. I jerked my hands away. It was a brown recluse – I inspected it for the fiddle face thing on its back. Yuck yuck yuck.
I grabbed a Kleenex in preparation for the kill. I hesitated as the spider poised itself for attack. That thin little tissue was poor protection for my hand. It left little room for error. This being a matter of life and death, I decided to risk losing the spider by leaving the scene to retrieve a heftier weapon. I didn’t go nuts – I settled for a paper towel. I stared at the spider and it stared back at me. This was a showdown. I blew on it to gauge its reflex time. Very swift, but as I suspected, it seemed to be trapped in the bowl of the sink. Its eight tiny legs slid and it came to a halt. This is it, I thought. You have to do this. Splat! Splat! Splat! I hit it three or four times before dropping the paper towel. I waited a few seconds to make sure the thing wasn’t somehow still alive and ready to crawl out from under the paper towel, spewing venom. Satisfied, I tossed the weapon with the smear that once was a brown recluse.
I’m not too bothered by spiders in general, but the brown recluse has haunted me for years. An article I read in Missouri Conservationist once gave me the heebie-jeebies for life. The article must have used scare tactics. Either that, or I was particularly impressionable at the time. Whatever the reason, I have always considered the brown recluse to be a big killer that is extremely common in Missouri homes. The truth is, while brown recluse bites can be fatal, they hardly ever are. Some people don’t notice anything after being bitten. Others get a little bite wound. Some get a super nasty bite in which the venom deteriorates the flesh like leprosy. And I quote:
When there is a severe reaction to the bite, the site can erupt into a “volcano lesion” (a hole in the flesh due to damaged, gangrenous tissue). The open wound may range from the size of an adult’s thumbnail to the span of a hand. The dead tissue gradually sloughs away, exposing underlying tissues. The sunken, ulcerating sore may heal slowly up to 6 to 8 weeks. Full recovery may take several months and scarring may remain. – http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2061.html
Missouri Conservationist told me all about how they kill you or leave these volcano lesions that can require plastic surgery. And the nasty little creatures like to bed down in the folds of your clothes or linens that you haven’t used in a while. They might crawl up the drain like mine did or they might just crawl into bed with you while you’re sleeping. The brown recluse is extremely common in Missouri houses. They are also found in all areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. If you picture that map, we’re at the eye of the storm here in Missouri. We’re the epicenter of recluse territory.
Now that you’re creeped out like me, be vigilant (not vigilante, as I nearly typed. It’s quite legal to kill this spider.) True to its name, the recluse prefers not to dwell out in the open. Like I mentioned above, these spiders like to hide in clothes or linens that have been folded for a long time. When you get such a thing out, hold it away from your body and shake it out before using or wearing it. I always shake clothes that have been folded in a drawer before I put them on.
Happily, if the recluse truly stays only within the highlighted area of the map, it will no longer be living with me once I move to northern Indiana in March.
And by the way, yes, I am posting this at 3:50 a.m. My trip to the bathroom was shortly after 3. I didn’t really have to go, I’m just really not succeeding at sleep tonight. Curse the nap I took this afternoon.