Imagine if you bought a new house and once you moved in, you noticed spiders crawling around everywhere.
Darren Bockhorn and his wife purchased a home in southeast Missouri. Shortly after settling into their new place, the couple noticed lots of brown recluse spiders.
They purchased sticky traps and placed them all over the house to catch the spiders.
"I've counted over 100 in the house right now," Bockhorn said.
"Over 200, total, with the ones I've killed and thrown away."
Darren Bockhorn trapped dozens of spiders all over the floor of his daughter's bedroom.
His wife, Jessica, was even bitten by one of the spiders.
"She had looked in the mirror and noticed one crawling out of her hair onto her forehead, and she had been bit[ten] on her left shoulder blade," he remembers .
Brown recluse spiders primarily live in the Midwestern and Southern states of the U.S., usually outdoors underneath rocks and logs.
They are known as ‘hitchhikers' and if you visit a state where they live, these spiders could easily hide in your luggage and wind up in other areas of the country where they're not commonly found.
Once they invade your home, they prefer dark places like closets, shoes and attics.
Since the Bockhorn's home sat uninhabited for nearly a year before they bought it, experts suspect that's probably when the spiders moved in.
Recluse spiders don't normally bite humans unless they are trapped against your skin.
Entomologist Dawn Flynn says a small bite on the face, however, could result in serious health issues.
"If the ulcer was to spread, it could hit the optic nerve and you could go blind," Flynn says. "It could hit the auditory nerve and you could lose your hearing. Also, if it's in your pants, and gets you between the legs, you could end up being sterilized."
The toxin in a brown recluse isn't generally fatal, but it is necrotic, meaning it kills the muscle tissue on the surface of the skin and will spread if not treated.
In rare cases, very young children and older adults have died after they were bitten.
So remember, spiders like to hide in empty boxes, under containers and in dark, hard-to-reach places in your home. A broom and vacuum could be a good defense.
"If there's enough of a hole for a quarter to be inserted, then that's enough for the brown recluse," Flynn says.
When you're outdoors, always wear protective clothing like gloves and a long-sleeved shirt before handling items in your garage or yard that haven't been disturbed for a while.
Old clothes and shoes are worth an inspection and a good shake before putting them on.
If you do have an out-of-control spider problem, it's probably time to call a professional exterminator.
That's what Bockhorn did, and he's hoping his wife and kids will soon move back in.
If you suspect you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, don't kill it.
Instead, put the insect in a sealed container like a bag or jar. A spider that's still intact will allow a medical lab to accurately identify the insect, and help physicians determine the best treatment you need.
The following information is from Dawn Flynn who is an entomologist at the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, NC.
The following information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
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