Bug Bites To Be Concerned About

Bug Bites to Watch Out ForThere are a lot of bugs out there that can bite you (or sting) but what bug bites do you need to be concerned about the most?

1. Deer Tick Bite

The deer tick is the primary cause for Lyme Disease today. Lyme Disease for decades as been more of a northeastern United States issue which has made it difficult for an accurate diagnosis. But in recent years has shown up all over the United States and medical professionals are getting more familiar with the tick bite and Lyme Disease. The primary tick to be concerned with is the Deer Tick (aka. Blacklegged Tick) and the transfer of bacteria from their bite. If you are bit by a Deer Tick then it is a good idea to keep the tick for positive identification and to visit a medical doctor. If you did not notice a tick bite, of a bite without being able to identify the tick, then be on vigil for the distinctive ‘bullseye’ rash.

2. Brown Recluse Bite

The brown recluse spider is one of three venomous spiders in the United States, one of two which we find here in Tennessee (and the Southeast in general). Identifying brown recluse spiders can be confusing to many people. When they bite a person it is usually when the spider has been trapped against a person (in a shoe, under sheets or pillow, etc). The venomous bite is generally not fatal but has been attributed to creating circumstances that lead to death (think of a severe allergic reaction). Most often the brown recluse bite will create a skin lesion. The lesion can be severe enough to require professional medical treatment. If you have a brown recluse bite seek out medical support.

3. Black Widow Bite

The black widow spider, unlike the brown recluse, is quite easy to identify. They are dark black and have a nice bright red splash of color on their back (often hourglass in shape). The black widow spider can be found in areas that have some clutter or coverage that are not disturbed by humans. Basements can be common for inside the house, woodpiles or sheds can be common for outside the home. The bite does not leave big distinctive marks in comparison to what insect bites we have already mentioned. You will likely have pain centering around the black widow spider bite that will shift into the abdomen and back. Cramping, sweating and a host of other symptoms will follow the initial bite pain. Seek medical support with the first 8 hours of a bite. Be sure to try and capture the spider to get a solid identification.

OSHA Black Widow Spider Facts PDF

Other bug bites that you should be concerned about are mosquito bites and bee stings. The mosquito bites could lead to acquiring a disease such as West Nile Virus or Chikungunya. Bee stings can be a huge concern when someone is allergic to the stings. In the case of young children one may not know if they are allergic to bee stings yet, so adequate precautions should be taken.

Where do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

Brown Recluse spiders are pretty common in our area of Tennessee, as well as the rest of the Southeastern United States. Yet, there are many misconceptions about them. And certainly many misidentifications for the brown recluse spider.

First: What Does a Brown Recluse Spider Look Like?

We covered what the recluse looks like in another article a few weeks back. The recluse is not always the same brown-reddish look, but that is their normal. Their size can vary as well, a full grown brown recluse will get to where they would cover the area the size of a penny. The violin marking on the back and their eyes are always a big tip off to the brown recluse versus a wolf spider or other spider.

Dead Brown Recluse SpiderBut Where do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

The brown recluse spider adheres to its name, it is a recluse and tries to stay away from people. You are the furthest thing from their interests. They prefer undisturbed places that are dryer in nature. You likely can find them in crawl spaces, garages, sheds, wood or storage piles, maybe guest rooms that are not used often. Often times when you hear about someone being bitten it is usually in a place of the house that has items which are not used frequently. Sheets from grandmothers extra room, gloves from dad’s storage shed, etc. are types of places that a brown recluse might set up shop where they come in contact with humans (resulting in a person getting bitten). Brown recluse will set up shop around the house in their own little communes. So if you see one, there are likely more. A good signal of having brown recluses is finding very erratically designed spider webs. In other spider webs, you get that traditional design that shows up on all the Halloween decorations. The recluse web just looks like a jumbled mess, think of it as if you took some thinned out cotton candy and stuff it in corners.

As with any pest, or rodent, you won’t find brown recluses if they are unable to find food sources. The brown recluse generally feeds on softer bodied insects like crickets (so think if you have ‘cave’ / ‘wolf’ crickets in your crawlspace), cockroaches, and firebrats are common food sources. If you look around the house and find some food sources then the possibility of having brown recluses around the home has increased.

What To Do With Brown Recluses In My Home?

It is impossible to get rid of brown recluses through the traditional tools and means used by pest control. Brown recluses are impervious to the normal sprays and will often hide in safe areas that are not touched by fumigation bombs. Often the best thing you can do is try to diminish the population and keep a little vigilance while living with them. What does “living with them” mean?

  • Make a regular rotation of washing clothes & sheets, even if nothing was used. If you have a guest room and people are coming over, wash the sheets beforehand and ruffle up the pillows, this will kill or alert you to any brown recluses call that room home.
  • If you have a shoe collection then shake out shoes before putting them on, especially if you have not worn in quite some time.
  • Put down sticky traps around the bases of the walls. This will help get rid of some of them and likely show you how many you have. Brown recluses will also eat their own, so sometimes you can get a second one when they try to eat their buddy.
  • Regularly clean up outdoor sheds and keep and eye out for brown recluse spider webs. If you recognize the presence of them then treating the area with a little caution might be called for.

This would be what one might come up with to ‘live with’ recluses in your house.

You can contact your pest control provider to see if they have brown recluse programs. Programs like this are move involved than general pest programs so you would have to see if they can offer that type of service.

The big myth that gets perpetuated by news reports is that brown recluses are aggressive spiders that are hunting us down. That is not the case. It is just a matter of them being disturbed by us in a place that they thought they were cool to be all alone and do their thing.