Beware: A dangerous pest could be lurking in the shadows of your home this summer.
Brown recluse spiders typically become more active in the warmer months, with a peak season between March and October, according to EarthSky.org.
Here's what you need to know to identify – and avoid – the unwelcome arachnids:
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1. What do they look like? The nocturnal spiders can be as large as a half-dollar and usually have violin-shaped markings on their upper body.
2. Where are they found? According to Live Science, brown recluses usually live in the southern and central U.S., including the following states:
They like "dark, secluded places," such as in closets or under garbage cans, Live Science reports. They might be lurking in boxes, shoes or clothes in your garage or basement, Holly Schwarting, who works for Kansas State University's Department of Entomology, told KFVS in 2016.
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3. Are brown recluses dangerous? While fatalities are rare, you definitely don't want to get bitten by one.
"The brown recluse spider's bite can be kind of a nasty one," Schwarting told KFVS. "Their venom contains a material that causes our tissue to break down, so it can create a lesion and a slow-healing wound."
The bite may have a red or purple circle around it, according to MedlinePlus. Bite victims may experience discomfort, chills, itching, nausea, fever and sweating, the site says. Rarely, the bites can cause jaundice, kidney failure, blood in urine, seizures and comas.
You should go to the nearest hospital, call 911 or contact the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you think you've been bitten, according to MedlinePlus.
4. How can I protect myself around the house?
Schwarting offered the following tips:
- Wear leather gloves while cleaning
- Shake out shoes and coats
- Set up glue traps
- Pay attention to your surroundings