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Why Did Thousands of Venomous Spiders Swarm a House?

Spiders literally creeping out of your walls may sound like a Halloween movie, but it was reality for one Missouri family: They were forced to move after more than 4,000 venomous spiders infested their home.

For several years the Trost family of Weldon Spring had seen brown recluse spiders coming out of the fireplace, the blinds, the pantry ceiling, even the shower, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. At least two pest-control companies failed to eradicate the plague. (See “7 Bug and Spider Myths Squashed.”)

Photo of a brown recluse spider.
Brown recluse spiders rarely bite people. Photograph by Robert Noonan, Getty

Why do spiders congregate like this—and could it happen to us? National Geographic spoke with Joel Ledford, who studies spiders at the University of California, Davis.

Where does this kind of mass gathering happen? 

I study spiders that are in caves, and I’ve been in caves where there have been many hundreds [of spiders] that belong to the same genus.

The species [Loxosceles reclusa] is focused in the [U.S.] Midwest, [including] Missouri, Alabama, large parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. So in someplace like Missouri, where the conditions are just right, they can be very abundant. (Also see “Spiderwebs Blanket Countryside After Australian Floods (Pictures).”)

Is this common? How often do you see huge numbers of spiders in one place?

There are lots of spiders everywhere. I’ve heard anecdotes that you’re never more than ten feet [three meters] from a spider, so spiders are abundant and common—even in urban environments.

But spiders don’t get together and form packs. Most spiders live very secretive lives.

There are some spiders that are social, and they form little colonies that contain many hundreds—or a thousand—of individuals.

I’m not surprised that there were lots, but certainly not seeping through the walls. That seems out of character for this kind of spider. They tend to spin a web and hang out there and not go very far. (See pictures: “World’s Biggest, Strongest Spiderwebs Found.”)

So why do you think this happened?

Four thousand spiders seeping out of the walls? I can’t even conceive of a situation that would be like that. It must’ve been very unique!

This spider is very secretive and not aggressive, and it doesn’t really do anything but hang out and eat harmful insects. It’s very unlikely that they’d start coming out of the walls—unless they’re males. (See “Strength in Numbers: 5 Amazing Animal Swarms.”)

When the males mature and they’re reproductive, they leave the safety of their web and go looking for love. That could have something to do with it.

How dangerous is this situation? Thousands of venomous brown recluse spiders?

Brown recluse spiders have a very special kind of venom that causes necrotic lesions—your skin starts seeping and dying and flaking off. It’s a nasty kind of thing. You don’t want to trivialize something like that. (Also see “Ask Your Weird Animal Questions: What Happens If You Swallow a Spider?“)

But the truth of the matter is that they rarely bite people. They don’t stalk people or jump at you.

Spider bites tend to get overdiagnosed and sensationalized by doctors.

 

Related Video: World’s Largest Spider

 

What do you say to those of us who are concerned about a spider infestation in our own homes?

Spiders live around you already—you’re surrounded by them all the time. But none of them hunt people.

They’re really important part of any ecosystem, even an urban ecosystem. They’re good to have around for insect control.

People can just relax. Worry more about your neighbors than the spiders around you.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Follow Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Aj
    Arkansas
    September 19, 10:54 pm

    You can not verify all the facts in this article. I killed 4 today and have never once seen one in a Web. In fact most researchers know they produce silk but it is common knowledge that they do not spin webs for food. If you don’t know that about the brown recluses you can not be trusted with any other facts.

  2. jo
    ca
    August 2, 8:13 pm

    A dear friend who was a young healthy woman was out in nature doing some hard drinking with a group of people, went into an old out house to unburden herself, later that day she was admitted into the hospital deathly sick, she died before the night was over. She had evidently encountered a nest of them. On another occasion another friend had just retired for the night when she turned over in bed to get comfortable she felt like she simply pulled a hair out in the elastic of her panties but with in hours and the next couple of weeks she became violently ill, the infection made her hair on her head fall out, ultimately leaving her with a hole in her upper thigh the depth of which was the length of one of her fingers. I have seen what these did to my friends and the RC bite is not to be taken lightly. If you can fumigate regularly, I recommend you do so. Let daddy longlegs live but not suffer a brown recluse to live.

  3. Lola
    Oklahoma
    June 27, 1:25 am

    The idea that BR’s are “reclusive” is ridiculous. I live in Oklahoma. They are everywhere. They are in my house, despite exterminators, residuals pesticides, glue traps.. you name it. We catch new ones every single day on the glue traps, and just running across floors. We find them in the bathtub sometimes, just sitting in the kitchen floor, near our back door which has been sealed and resealed. Found one hanging out on the couch cushion a few days ago. We have to inspect/shake our clothes before putting them on. Everyone preaches to not leave clothes on the floor. I’ve found BR’s in shirts that were hanging in the closet. They are just as easy to get to as the floor. They don’t hide a bit here, no matter what time of day/night. But if I stomp my feet they typically start running away. What’s really interesting, despite all the recluses around our property, I currently have a wolf spider bite. Never been bitten by the recluses. Thankfully, I will be out of Oklahoma and on to my next adventure soon.

  4. Dr. Steve
    AZ
    February 9, 2:12 pm

    “Spider bites tend to get overdiagnosed and sensationalized by doctors.”

    Absolutely, false, my friend. Nearly every person with a an acute bump comes in to the doctor stating they got bit by a spider. Indeed, most Primary Care, Urgent Care, and ER Physicians spend part of their day trying to convince people it was not a spider. That said, NP’s and PA’s with less education might also go along with the false spider cause. What’s humorous to me is that when I tell people that most spiders are not interested in biting humans and instead they are concerned about spinning webs and catching insects, they all say, “I know”. Rhetorically speaking, well, if you knew, then why did you think this is from a spider?

    As one poster said, most of the times this is MRSA and the other times it’s local allergic reactions to flying insect bites.

  5. Karen
    Kansas
    February 7, 11:02 am

    I can tell you for Fact a BR will run at you if it feels threatened or is injured. It has happened to me. It happened 3 years ago in May or June. I cleaned out my little boys closet, which has the attic opening in the ceiling , and stacked all his out grown jeans out in the hallway to be taken to Catholic charities. Being a busy mom, the jeans sat there for a few days. When I loaded them up, there was a big BR on the carpet where the jeans had been. At the time I didn’t realize it was a BR, I had heard BR were smallish and this thing was not smallish. Moving the jeans apparently broke one of its legs. As I started towards it with a shoe, the damn thing literally ran at me. Even with a leg jacked up, they are fast. And their bodies are elevated off the ground, most spiders seem to crawl with their bodies somewhat close to the ground, but a BR is elevated on its long legs. Once you see one scurrying across the carpet you’ll know what I mean. Anyway, that was the first BR I had found in our home, and I Freaked out. I fired my exterminator and took things on myself. It’s been baited glue traps specifically for BR spiders and Cyper WP ever since. I’ve caught over 16 on the glue traps and the Cyper WP has drawn out probably that many from the depths of the various closets. I swear by Cyper WP. It kills them within 12-24 hours. Spray it every 3 months. I’m BR free at this point, but I still spray and still sit out glue traps in the spring and fall of the year.

  6. Kierra Godfrey
    Manitoba
    January 25, 3:22 pm

    Many of us are unlikely to see a spider once a week inside our homes. Most have never crossed paths with a brown recluse, as this species of spider tends to be shy in nature; hence their name. Imagine witnessing over 4,000 of these eight-legged creatures spilling from the walls and ceilings. The infestation is a tragedy for those who resided in this home. By the same token, what has happened here is an inimitable occurrence. The Trost family is going to have some major arachnophobia after this experience, I’m sure.
    The article indicates spiders were an ongoing issue in the home for several years, but how would anybody be able to live with this problem for that amount of time? I wouldn’t think having such an influx of arachnids would be easy to ignore, at least not for most people. This is especially true when considering how severe brown recluse bites can be.
    Also, how were two different extermination companies not able to rid the building of the creepy-crawlers? As someone in the comments section mentioned, usually a quick spray of Raid is all it takes to kill a single insect. Much more extensive measures would have to be taken in this situation, undoubtedly, but was permanently vacating the home really necessary? Then again, maybe the bad memories were all it took to scare the Trost’s away for good.

  7. Rennie Curtiss
    Kansas City, Missouri
    September 29, 2015, 6:54 pm

    There is much misinformation about the brown recluse spider. For instance, exterminators do no good? Spray one with Raid and it dies. If you have children who play on the floor, you must take action if these spiders are seen in the living areas of your home. A child died in the Kansas City area a few years ago as a result of this spider’s bite. A bug bomb (or several) in an unfinished attic will do wonders. (Do not put bug bombs in the basement where hot water heaters and furnaces use pilot lights to ignite them or you may blow up the house!)
    What a spider sees as aggressive behavior is not what we will see. Putting a leg in a pair of jeans doesn’t seem aggressive to us but this is one of the more famous ways to get bit by one. Keep your clothes and bedclothes off the floor.
    Brown recluse spiders are not as reclusive as people would have us believe. Otherwise they would stay in the walls, basement and attic. They are drawn by the light into the living spaces of the home. They are drawn into houses by lighted windows after dark, heavy rain in spring and cold in the fall. They live in woody areas outside your home and in crevices under driveways and possibly rock piles.
    Caulk, caulk, caulk around outdoor faucets and electrical outlets, and windows. Caulk indoor baseboards, around doors, kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Close your blinds and pull those shades after dark!!! Exterminators HELPED greatly but now I buy my own bug bombs for the attic once or twice a year. These spiders freeze when you move so keep a can of bug spray in every room. They most always are found on the floor and I have never seen one use a web. Use Roach Motels as spider traps behind furniture and in closets. No matter what else I do, these catch brown recluse spiders in the house. I use a good Home Pest Spray around the inside perimeter of the garage only. Remember, brown recluse spider infestations are not easily gotten rid of like roaches so you must always stay vigilant. I will not put up with these highly venomous creatures in my house and neither should anyone else.

  8. Kelly
    Essex jct vt
    October 29, 2014, 12:33 pm

    Another spider that mimics a brown recluse is a yellow sac spider. The are nation wide. Te are called a sac spider because they make little sacs in the corner or ur ceiling/wall and baseboards. That is where they hide during the day. And walk the walls and ceilings at night in search for food. They are smaller spiders, and have a yellowish/greenish abdomen. They also are venomous, their venom is cytotoxic, like a recluse, only their bites are generally not as serious or life threatening. I have them in my home, and the exterminator has to come every three months, as the preventive pesticide they use can only work for that long. I saw one in its sac one day and searched it, found out what it was, and was not happy. I had not been bitten by one so I left them be. A year and a half later I had my first bite, that liquified a hole into leg an inch deep. Every doctor I have spoke with states that more spider bites are from a yellow sac spider but people generally think it’s a recluse bite because they have never heard of the yellow sac. They are not hairy/scary looking as others (all are scary to me). Thousands of Mazda 6s had to be repossessed in 09 and 12 because they are attracted to the smell of gasoline and they infested cars. Cars have a spider trap, or a contraption that keeps them out. Their webs have been known to crack fuel tanks, and other things. They come inside in the fall, colder months, or when you take your shrubs away. They dangle from the ceiling and go up and down looking for food. 3 times my boyfriend watched one pull it’s self up a few inches and come down a few more…. If I hadn’t been bitten twice by one, and had my leg turn into juice, had swollen up and was really painful, have to go on medical leave because walking with my pants running on it, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to inspect the bathroom at night. But I’ve had one fall on me minutes before a shower, one fall out of my shower spoosh, and seen one watching me from the shower curtain. I no longer feel safe. They are awful! And not many people know they exist! I’ve told so many people so they can keep an eye out! Last thing anyone needs is for their babies, grandchildren, or loved one to be bitten!!! Please be aware of these spiders! The only 3 spiders in the U.S with venom made of cytotoxin are the brown recluse, the yellow sac, and the hobo!!

  9. donnie
    orange county, californiq
    October 26, 2014, 12:56 am

    first I am REALLY scared of spiders…any size and kind. My aunt died from a brown recluse bite, she was in Texas. It bite her on the toe when she went to put her shoe on. As for me if one lands on me…ANY…I would died of fright. I can’t kill them, I close the door where is it, and send in my husband. I got a bite from a spider on a plane…I went from Calif. to Pittsburg. When I got to my friends home I noticed a small red mark on my eyebrow…The next morning my eyes was shut close with swelling. I went to the hospital, and was admitted, and spend a week in the hospital. I still have a nice scar on my eyebrow. Good thing I didn’t see it…the plane would have had a woman running up and down the plane, screaming…..

  10. pretty B.R.S. in a Jar
    Broken Wave Machine
    October 26, 2014, 12:54 am

    I still think that doctors tend to sensationalize, even if they would survive a nuclear blast, as Mark Rodriguez is trying to make us believe. I myself was bitten by this species for at least once. SEVERAL witnesses can testify that this is true and yet this spider and it’s bite is the least of my concerns in my everyday struggle.

  11. Gramma Kaye
    NJ
    October 23, 2014, 9:46 am

    Feel like watching “Arachnophobia” again. Haven’t seen it for years.

  12. Mike P.
    Washington State
    October 22, 2014, 11:47 pm

    How did they determine that there were ‘over 4000’ spiders involved in this scenario? Did they kill them all and count the bodies one-by-one? Or was there more of a “Guess how many jelly beans are in the jar” approach? This article really does scream sensationalism to me..i think it’s garbage

  13. James
    California
    October 22, 2014, 9:24 pm

    Because it was there.

  14. Benita R.
    St. Louis, MO
    October 22, 2014, 5:40 pm

    I’ve heard about this house, it is just outside St. Louis. They had to tent it to kill all the spiders. Apparently, when the people bought it, the previous owners didn’t tell them about the spiders. On another note, a friend of mine got bitten by a fiddle back/brown recluse when we were in college. He lived in a semi-recluded area and it was in this jeans when he put them on. The back of his calf turned black and the skin died. He got lucky because if it had gotten worse, he could have lost the muscles in his calf as well. I’ve dealt with these spiders in Oklahoma and in Missouri. They are just awful.

  15. Jean Binder
    Kansas
    October 22, 2014, 1:44 pm

    The truth undoubtedly lies smewhere in the middle. It has been documented that many of the pictures you can find of necrotic tissue alledgedly caused from a brown recluse spider bite was actually the result of one of the hospital infections that you can get [MRSA, staph, etc] that was secondary to the actual bite. At any rate, there is no point in being scared or feeling helpless. We had a small infestation, we think, of brown recluse, at one of our rental units and was advised by the pest people to simply put out glue boards until they stopped getting caught. It took about two weeks. If there was a huge infestation, unlikely it seems, this might not be enough.

  16. Joel Ledford
    Davis, CA
    October 22, 2014, 1:03 pm

    People are asking why so many recluse spiders were found in this house, and what they can do to prevent being next!

    Like many other spiders, recluse spiders have a preferred ‘microhabitat’ and the conditions in this home may have been just right. Recluse spiders are often associated with people and do well in human homes and dwellings (synanthropic). There are reports of some older homes and barns in the Midwest that have many hundreds or thousands of individuals!

    Recluse spiders are nocturnal hunters, and spend most of the time in small web retreats during the day. They don’t often wander far while looking for food and may just sit and wait in their webs. Once males are reproductively mature, they wander in search of females. If you have lots of loose clothing on the floor, bedsheets, etc. these can be used by the spiders as hiding places. If the spider used your shirt as a hiding place and then you put it on in the morning it could be pressed against your skin and bite you. Coming into contact with these spiders is easily avoided by keeping things tidy and being mindful.

    The original story had details about spiders seeping though walls which I found incredible. The only possible explanation I could conceive is that many males matured and went out looking for mates. Strange things happen at times, however, and there are some interesting videos prepared by Australian colleagues where spiders and other arthropods seem to be attracted to diesel engines at idle!

    Spider bites are overdiagnosed, and there are many articles that deal with this in professional journals. This is not to say that recluse spider bites are not dangerous, but they are uncommon given how abundant they can be in some areas.

    The mythos and stigma surrounding spiders is pervasive in the media, and spiders overall have a bad rap. They are important predators in nearly all ecosystems, including urban environments.

    Most everyone I talk to about spiders has a personal anecdote about spider bites (or deaths!) and I do my best to share information about spider biology. Mostly, I just listen.

    If I were to give some pointers and facts, here is what I would say:
    1) spiders don’t hunt people or congregate in packs or swarms,
    2) spiders won’t chase you down or stalk you,
    3) spiders may bite, but lots of other things do too (including people),
    4) spiders are important predators and do much more good than harm

    Most importantly, be aware of the biology in your area. Some things can be dangerous, but most are not. Oftentimes the most amazing discoveries are made by people just being observant.

  17. SB
    October 22, 2014, 10:23 am

    To those who are saying this article contains inaccurate information, I would like to defend it. First, as I understand it, it’s not that brown recluse spiders are aggressive, it’s that they have poor vision and go towards vibrations, and I guess somewhere along the line they lost or failed to evolve the ability to register the difference in the vibrations between a bug and a large mammal. Once they realize it is not in fact a bug, but a giant person, I’d imagine they get aggressive because they are panicking, which makes any animal more dangerous.
    Also, if it is a group of searching, reproductively active males, I would imagine they are more likely to have aggressive tendencies. If they are swarming a place, they are probably rather crowded, which I think would increase the liklihood of them roaming and/or being aggressive.
    Imagine if you were in the same area as an attractive person of your interest, and were crowded by potential competitors. That’s just an analogy of my guess of course.
    In terms of their bite, there are other things and animals that can cause similar wounds, and misdiagnosese are not uncommon. And these spiders, according to what I know, are unable to actually penetrate your skin without actually being pressed against you (for ex. stepped on or under the sheets or rolled on). However, that might be different if they are larger.
    The danger with these bites is that they don’t initially hurt, and can go unnoticed, allowing them to spread or to become infected. Spiders are also infamous, I believe, for causing staff infection.
    Brown recluse spiders are reclusive, but they seem to have what one might consider an evolutionary failure… except it isn’t, because they’re still plentiful.
    A completely random guess (as in no sources, an uneducated guess) would be that, when so crowded, they are inbreeding. I do not know of that is possible with spiders, however. It might be with certain species where the male isn’t killed by the female or the female reproduces more than once.
    My experience comes from several sources, and personal encounters with these spiders by friends and family. I grew up in an area where some of these spiders lived. My father was playing the guitar, a recluse felt the vibrations and crawled up his leg, then suddenly was freaked. My father flicked it off and it ran away.
    I am not trying to create an argument, I just felt a responsibility to provide this National Geographic page with a defense. Perhaps simply considering this comment as food for thought would be better.
    It also might be good to consider that this scientist has a PHD (often 3-4 additional years after a BA for science).

  18. Joel Ledford
    Davis, CA
    October 22, 2014, 10:05 am

    @Mark, I certainly don’t trivialize the risks of being bitten by a recluse spider but the biology of this species (and spiders in general) is different than what most people perceive. Recluse spiders live secretive lives and the original story upon which this article was based seemed extraordinary. I respect your opinions, and as I scientist I do my best to stick to the facts.
    There is great information about recluse spiders and the myths surrounding them here: http://spiders.ucr.edu/myth.html

  19. Rosanna
    Montana
    October 22, 2014, 9:52 am

    The bite of a Recluse should NOT be trivialized, a young boy of ten years died just last week here in Montana from a bite,

  20. Ted Sabal
    Miami, Florida
    October 22, 2014, 9:48 am

    A spider bite had me in the hospital for 14 days,venom ate through my abdominal flesh like 6 inches diagonally in a matter of hours with high fever

  21. Chris
    October 22, 2014, 9:32 am

    Did you “lightly edit” the portions of the interview that actually dealt with the topic?

  22. TH
    October 22, 2014, 9:20 am

    I like how you didn’t answer the question you yourself posed in the title. Quality writing.

  23. L
    October 22, 2014, 9:09 am

    Spiders. In Asia we use them in gambling. Lol.

  24. Craig
    Chicago , IL
    October 22, 2014, 8:11 am

    As a Zoogist I can say that most of the above posts have no truth to them. Has there been any video of the spiders “coming out of the walls”? Most of the comments on here are illogical and based on fear and superstition.

    Some of the information is accurate. It is correct that the recluse is a hunting spider. I have seen places in rural PA.where there have been thousands of recluses in the basement. Also, the recluses’ venom is nasty. So that is accurate also. I think the bottom line is that the spiders are a problem and can be dangerous. Not likely to bite but it does happen sometimes.

  25. Rebekah
    Michigan
    October 22, 2014, 8:00 am

    Totally agree with you mark r. My brother was bitten by one of these spiders and nearly lost his leg!! We live in Michigan, and we saw them ALL the time in our basement. They are indeed aggressive, and will absolutely start “running” towards you. This article was shocking to me that it would even be posted with all it’s inaccuracies, especially it being from national geographic. Guess it really is true….can’t believe everything you read, especially on the internet. I sat if you see one kill it!!! The easiest way to tell it is a brown recluse; look for the “fiddle” at the top of its body.

  26. Patricia
    October 22, 2014, 6:41 am

    Looks like I’m never moving to Missouri @ Mark

  27. isabel irribarra
    Chile
    October 22, 2014, 5:40 am

    The previous comment is better than the post of NatGeo… that spider is very dangerous if one of them bites you maybe you’re going to be at the hospital in few hours after.
    As an advice, clean every corner at home and use some kind of pesticide against spiders… they dont hung in a web, if you see pieces of webs or a disordered one a loxoceles was walking through your wall, when the summer is coming and the weather is hot they go out from their caves… that’s dangerous for you and for your children.
    I was bitten by a loxoceles, a young male, I was lucky, but it hurts, the level of pain is disgusting… And I still have my skin black…after an entire year.

  28. Ester
    October 22, 2014, 5:24 am

    Everything the man interviewed in this article can be verified on the web if you are willing to steer away from the sensationalized “OMG Brown Recluse Bite pictures” (many of which belong to the same people) and with a little bit of research I was able to dig up this: Brown recluse spider bites are generally not fatal. They are not to be taken lightly, as the man interviewed clearly states, so if you had actually taken the time to read the article instead of spewing more unfounded paranoia, you would have comprehended that.
    Brown recluse FEMALES stay closer to the web, while males venture out much further to hunt. If you do not see them in their web it is because they ‘heard’ you coming a mile away and went to hide (their name kind of gives it away, they are RECLUSIVE), because that is their first instinct as with many spiders. However, if the brown recluse feels threatened, for instance when it is on the floor where our huge feet stomping around them could easily crush them, they will defend themselves (aka what you describe as running at you – though I am convinced this is another one of those tall tales people love to tell to look interesting).
    I have a friend who sees Brown Recluses around on a near daily basis and they are nearly always running and hiding, unless she is sitting still (which is difficult to do as she is an arachnaphobe), which is when they simply walk by in search for food and leave her alone. She has never been bitten, nor has reported a spider “attacking” her, like running directly at her.
    The fatalities reported to be from Brown recluse bites occur almost always in the very old and the very young, because their immune system is impaired or insufficiently developed, but there are many conditions that cause lesions similar to that of a brown recluse bite so misdiagnosing is easy.
    Truthfully, most spider bites aren’t even diagnosed as such because people don’t experience any symptoms or only minor ones, so in all likelihood, the number of fatalities from all bites by this spider species is far lower than you think it is, because the media loves to sensationalize (it is how they get viewers/readers).
    So these spiders can, but many times DON’T kill you, they will however cause nasty damage if you do not seek treatment for the bite (and if you can bring the spider with you for proper identification), which the man in this interview absolutely agrees with, and he even states that their bites should NOT be trivialized.
    The fact you have lived around these spiders for quite some time and have not been bitten kind of proves this man’s point about the sensationalizing. Don’t trivialize the spider and the bite, but don’t make it out to be a ruthless killer out to get you and every bite is fatal or results in horrible disfiguration.
    I have seen several of those claimed to be recluse bite amputations that were actually amputations and necrosis from untreated diabetes and other diseases(if you do a search for these you find a lot of the same images). So don’t believe everything a google picture search tells you.

  29. Betty Stogner
    United States
    October 22, 2014, 3:36 am

    I have googled them and very scary. We have the wolf spider, I was bit several months ago and still have the area showing and scared from the bite. They are related, thank God the wolf isn’t as venemous, but to some people any spider bite could be deadly. I would probably drop of heart failure if I had that many spiders crawling out the walls, and etc. I am petrified of spiders. This specialist never really gave an answer as to what would cause that many to congregate in a home. That is scary.

  30. claudiap.vera
    voronezh.rusia
    October 22, 2014, 2:30 am

    Es posible estos temas tan interesantes en espaniol? Gracias.

  31. Layte hudson
    United States
    October 22, 2014, 2:27 am

    I live in alaska an these are one of the main spiders here, during winter they move into houses for warmth, and usually never go out of their way to bite someone unless its provoked. A spider, in my opinion, wouldnt go around a house hunting you down to bite you, because it isnt benificial in any way to it.

  32. Ann Sanders
    Tracy, CA
    October 22, 2014, 1:42 am

    I have a problem with this article trivializing the chances of being bitten by a spider. I was bitten by a brown recluse at a relative’s house in Missouri shortly after going to bed one night. We’d just put clean sheets fresh from the dryer on the bed, so the spider found me. I didn’t stumble upon it. I was lucky – it didn’t necrotize, but even so, it was painful and I was swollen, fatigued and achy for several days. I was able to swat the spider with a magazine and took it with me to the clinic where it was identified as a brown recluse. Later, I spoke with many for whom a bite from this spider had been as serious as a poisonous snake bite. They showed me scars and some have limited use of their limbs as a result of a brown recluse bite. Don’t tell me to be calm and not worry if I see one of these.

  33. Loni
    Seattle,Wa
    October 22, 2014, 12:53 am

    While picking blackberries next to the shed, I had a spider fall into my bra. It was squished, so definite identification was impossible, but I went to the ER twice, and at one point I feared losing my right breast. Nasty looking wound! They ID’d the spider by the necrosis. HATE brown recluse spiders! However, I have a common garden spider in my bedroom for flies, a ‘pet’ named Sally Anne.

  34. Tasha G
    Missouri
    October 22, 2014, 12:51 am

    Mark Rodriguez knows his stuff.

  35. Levonne
    Arkansas
    October 21, 2014, 7:36 pm

    Thank you Mark!, your information is very useful

    .

  36. Justin Dailey
    Los Angeles
    October 21, 2014, 12:38 am

    +1 Mark Rodriguez. They are some vicious little creatures and you should stay away from them.

  37. Aabish Qureshi
    U.S.A
    October 20, 2014, 6:14 pm

    I think this article is just fine and most of it is true a spider lives in my window and has killed or preyed many insects that would bite me and I also believe national geographic because if this wasn’t true it wouldn’t have been published in this website I believe that this article is true.

  38. Joshua Yeend
    Daphne AL
    October 20, 2014, 4:49 pm

    I will personally trust the guy with a doctorate in the subject instead of you, the guy whose research consists of trapping a spider in an “air tight” jar. Dr. Ledford never denied small instances of bites across your state. There (not their) are also over 6 million people in your state. Do the math. I don’t think Dr. Ledford was misguided in any of his statements. Next time you should submit your curriculum vitae to National Geographic and maybe they will select you as their expert.

  39. Mark Rodriguez
    United States
    October 18, 2014, 3:33 pm

    First off, let me say that nearly EVERYTHING stated in this article is completely false information. As a matter of fact, I’m very surprised National Geographic even published it. I don’t know who this ‘Joel Ledford’ is, but I’d suggest he stick to studying his “cave spiders”. I live in Missouri and this state is infested with Brown Recluse spiders. I’ve rarely lived in a home that did not have a good abundance of them living in the home. Some of them can reach the size of nearly a half dollar coin in size. They can get huge. I’ve seen them nickel size, quarter size, and closer to half dollar size. Yes, they create thick webs, but that is nearly always for where they lay their spider eggs. They don’t hang out in their web and not venture out very far as this story claims. You will rarely if ever see a Brown Recluse in it’s web. They don’t spin webs and sit around waiting for an insect to get trapped for their next meal like many spiders do. Brown Recluse are a predatory hunting spider. They roam your entire house searching for food and water. They also will eat their own kind if given the opportunity. Insect Exterminators will do no good. They can and most often will hide out in closets, basements, attics, and crevices, and can literally hide there for many months without no food or water after an exterminator has sprayed for spiders, so they don’t come into contact with the bug spray therefore it just doesn’t work for this type of spider. I personally have taken a Brown Recluse as a test and placed it in a small baby food jar with no food or water to see how long it could survive. I never even opened the lid to the jar to let fresh oxygen in it during this test. After 3 full months in the tiny jar with no fresh oxygen, no food, no water, the Brown Recluse was in just as great of condition and was just as responsive as the day it was placed in the jar. They are like Cockroaches in the sense they would probably survive a Nuclear Blast and continue living on. Unlike what this article claims some are aggressive and will run towards you when they’re on the ground. They will come through your drains in the bathtub and kitchen sink searching for water. They primarily live in and around areas that have numerous trees and wooded areas. They live in trees. If your property has many trees, out buildings, garages, vegetative over growth, most likely you will have them in your home. Their are SEVERAL documented cases in Missouri of people dying from Brown Recluse bites. They last death occurred here just this summer to a young girl who was life flighted to an area hospital after being bitten by one. She didn’t survive. For this ‘Joel Ledford’ to claim that doctors over sensationalize these spider bites is a mind blowing ridiculous statement. These spiders can and many times do kill you. If you’re very lucky you might only wind up needing a limb amputation or having a baseball sized chunk of your flesh rotted away by the venom resulting in ugly scarring you’ll have the rest of your life. Feel free to Google image Brown Recluse spider bites and look at the damage they inflict. It isn’t pretty.