It's not every day that we find respite from the anxiety and obsession caused by an encounter with the loathsome and impressive brown recluse spider. Loxosceles reclusa. Great name, right? I have found it today though.
Since moving to the midwest, I have had the opportunity to share my home with them. I understand that they are generally no more interested in biting me than I am interested in seeing them or obviously, being bitten by one, but it still occupies my thought more than I'd like. I take a sip of beer, I wonder at that moment when the beer hit my lips if a brown recluse will flow out of the bottle into my mouth. I sit down for elimination, and I wonder if a brown recluse is just about to jump onto my sac and bite. These thoughts. Not overwhelming, but certainly not constructive.
IN any event, something unacceptable happened this very day. I went to grab a pair of shorts, left out overnight on a piece of furniture. I was going to put my naked body INTO those shorts, and as the garment unfolded, there, in perfect stillness, sat Loxosceles reclusa. I knew her right away because while moving from our ~100 y.o. house recently, I met many of her. So, there on the shorts I was about to put my naked balls in, sat a brown recluse. <HELL NO>. I am not prone to killing things, but I murdered this morning. I flicked with such murderous power and resolve that two of its legs flew off.
"When dwelling in human residences they seem to favor cardboard, possibly because it mimics the rotting tree bark which they inhabit naturally. They have also been encountered in shoes, inside dressers, in bed sheets of infrequently used beds, in clothes stacked or piled or left lying on the floor, inside work gloves, behind baseboards and pictures, in toilets, and near sources of warmth when ambient temperatures are lower than usual. Human-recluse contact often occurs when such isolated spaces are disturbed and the spider feels threatened. Unlike most web weavers, they leave these lairs at night to hunt. Males move around more when hunting than the females, which tend to remain nearer to their webs. The spider will hunt for firebrats, crickets, cockroaches, and other soft-bodied insects."
In other words, they live in many of the places I routinely put my flesh, if inside the house. Like my shorts. This morning. Also, where there is one, there are many. Unacceptable.
In some ways, perhaps not just in name, but behaviorally, I share characteristics with the brown recluse; my name is of course brown, I am very active at night, I can be somewhat reclusive, but I most certainly do not cause dermonecrosis.
the only proven arachnological cause of dermonecrosis I happen to have just bought some primo peppermint essential oil, and evidently spiders don't like it, but inconclusive. clusive. cluse. recluse. Loxosceles reclusa.
Enter the humble tropical house gecko. Today I learned something very comforting; the tropical house gecko is potentially the best organic, all natural defense against brown recluse. In laboratory study, there was only 1 gecko death out of 123 incursions. Another gecko died during the study, but it was restrained and used as a control measure to see if recluse would bite and kill gecko.
From the study results:
When preying on L. intermedia (Loxosceles intermedia, from Brazil, another species of horrifying brown spider genus) during the 30 minutes of observation (n=106 observations), the geckos used to lift the head towards the spider, which has just been introduced into the experimental arena, and started walking slowly approaching Loxosceles, generally facing its lateral or posterior body regions (Figure 1A). Some centimeters from the spider, the geckos used to stop, and sometimes, licked their labial scales. On two occasions, we observed geckos hitting the tail against the cage walls several times. The attack consisted of a fast run followed by one bite on the spiders abdomen or legs (Figure 1B). We did not observe any gecko attacking spiders anterior body parts, probably due to the fangs present in this region. The gecko with the restrained spider in its mouth could hit the head against the substrate several times. Autotomy of legs from Loxosceles spiders occurred many times, but this behavior was unsuccessful in protecting the spiders in all the observations.
I must clarify, Loxosceles is the genus, and there are more than 100 species of Loxosceles spiders, all of which are the only proven cause of arachnological dermonecrosis. Say that 10 times really fast...
As it happens, I have cohabited with geckos and small desert lizards before. I had a pet lizard for 6 months when I was 10 as a result of saving it from a cat attack. It lived on my dresser and I fed it lettuce daily. When living in Miami, it was very common to have geckos in the house. Lizards are actually sweet creatures - as far as I are concerned. I am so comfortable living with a gecko.
This is taking too long. I'm done cohabiting with brown recluse. I will kill on site all brown recluse spiders henceforth. But, since I have a "no kill policy", I don't want to do that. So, starting now, I am thinking seriously about picking up a few tropical house geckos. It really warms my heart thinking of those little guys.
Let's leave us with a few salient, if not direct points:
"The observations summarized in this paper support the evidence, from occasional field observations and from reports of Curitibas inhabitants, that H. mabouia could be used in the biological control of L. intermedia spiders in human dwellings. It is particularly relevant because there are not many predators for brown spiders in anthropic and perianthropic habitats, particularly inside human dwellings (1,2,7), where most loxoscelic accidents happen."
And in case it wasn't immediately clear before, L. intermedia is functionally the same as L. reclusa.
Tropical house gecko defeats brown danger spider. period.
So, here's the bottom line:
I think the choice is clear.