Brown recluse spider bites increase during summer months

Brown recluse spider bites increase during summer months
Updated: Jul. 24, 2018 at 5:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Its venom can leave a painful mark on you and even lead to serious infections.

The brown recluse spider calls the Mid-South its home all year, but the warmer months are when you are most likely to get bitten.

"We live in ground zero for brown recluse abundance," said Steve Reichling, director of Conservation and Research at Memphis Zoo.

With the summer heat comes the brown recluse spider.

"Brown recluses love it when it's hot and dry," Reichling said.

"From what I've been hearing in the community the brown recluse has been more of a problem, but I'm not sure why that is," said Dr. Jeff Mullins, a family physician with Methodist Medical Group.

Viewers have been sounding off about their experiences with them this year, with one bite victim saying it's the worst pain imaginable. Others noted how many spiders they've seen in their homes.

Mullins said the first sign of a brown recluse bite is a painful sting.

"The bite will be painful and red at first," Dr. Mullins said. "Then, it will develop a dark black center over the next few days as the tissue actually dies from the effect of the poison."

Doctors said tissue death only happens in about 10 percent of brown recluse bites.

If you see them in your house, call an exterminator and don't panic.

Reichling said the spiders are not aggressive and only bite when they're about to be smashed.

"What they do like to do is hide in tight spaces that aren't disturbed often," Reichling said. "So those can be clothes hanging in a closet all winter then used in the summer, those can be bed sheets, those can be boxes stored in a closet."

Reichling recommends cleaning out sheds and garages in the cooler months so the spiders don't have places to hide come summer.

Even if you never felt a bite but see the signs of a possible brown recluse mark, Mullins said you should see a doctor.

For additional tips, visit the Mayo Clinic's website at this link.

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