How to Keep Brown Recluse Spiders Away From Your House

The brown recluse spider inhabits most of the Midwestern and south central United States. It likes seclusion, hence its name, and can be up to the size of a quarter with its legs extended. The “brown” recluse ranges from tan to brown. The spider has other names, such as fiddle or violin spider because of the violin-shaped markings on its abdomen. Bites are rare. Wounds vary from almost no effects to lesions that cause the skin under the bite to rot to the bone. In rare instances, the bites can be fatal, especially for children, older people and anybody with a weak immune system. These connsequences warrant preventative and active measures to keep the brown recluse away from your house.

Brown recluse spiders do not use spiderwebs to kill prey.

Step 1

Use yellow light bulbs on all outdoor lights. Sodium vapor bulbs work, too. The bulbs don’t deter the spider, but do deter its insect prey. These are available at retail, hardware and home improvement stores.

Step 2

Eliminate debris and clutter inside and outside your house. The brown recluse prefers dark and secluded spots such as under rocks, in woodpiles, crawls spaces, basements, cardboard boxes, inside rarely used clothing or under a bed skirt. Keep a clean yard. Stack firewood well away from your house. Move beds from the wall. Shake out clothes that haven’t been worn for some time and generally keep the house neat.

Step 3

Inspect dark spaces with a flashlight. Often, the brown recluse lives in a house without the owner realizing it. Inspection will gauge if you have any existing brown recluse spiders because when they molt, the hard, discarded shell looks like a living spider.

Step 4

Seal all openings to your house. This includes placing screens on windows and sweeps under the edges of doors. Caulk all crevices on the exterior of the house.

Step 5

Put items in sealable, plastic containers, especially in your basement or garage. The fewer places the spider has to hide, the less the chance it will enter your home.

Step 6

Set out glue traps commonly used for small rodents and roaches. Put rectangular glue boards in various parts of your house to trap these spiders upon entry and to see if you have a problem or not. The most effective glue traps resemble a piece of cardboard and do not have raised edges. These are available at most retail, hardware and home improvement stores.

Step 7

Apply insecticides. Use chemical control as both a proactive and defensive measure. Entomologists at the University of Kentucky and Ohio State say that cypermethrin or cyfluthrin based insecticides work best for the brown recluse. These products are available at hardware and home improvement stores.


  • People bitten by a brown recluse should seek medical attention immediately.
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