Brown Recluse Infestation

Asked June 15, 2016, 11:59 PM EDT

I have found 19 Brown Recluse spiders in the apt I just moved into in a span of 11 days including two closets full of dead and alive little baby spiders that I couldn't identify and I'm trying to break out of my lease because my fiancée and I are worried for our health and safety. We have both been bitten inside the apt with unusual side effects never experienced by previous spider bites and don't want to live here while it's being treated since we're getting married in a few months and having children. The chemical treatments may cause problems with a fetus in a pregnant woman. We have talked to a lawyer about what we can do and she said that we are able to leave if it's considered an infestation and dangerous to us, but she said we need a professional to tell us if it's an infestation. These spiders are found everywhere through the apt and even in light while we are cooking or just sitting on the couch or at the table. We also find them in glue traps. Another thing is that our neighbor, whose apt is attached to ours (duplex), has been seeing them for about a year and told us this is the worse it's been. She's been bitten multiple times by them and had to receive an antibiotic treatment for necrosis and was throwing up being sick for two weeks. Do I have a sufficient amount of evidence to consider this an infestation, so that I may break out of my lease?

Jackson County Illinois

1 Response

Thank you for your question. According to the author of The Brown Recluse Spider, a distribution study of brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) published in the Journal of Medical Entomology in 2014 indicated that this species is common and abundant both outside and inside structures in the southern third of Illinois.

The spiders in the photos you sent could very well be brown recluse spiders. The violin marking is clearly present, the overall coloration matches the characteristic colors, and there appear to be no significant spines on the legs, another characteristic of the brown recluse. However, it is impossible to see the number and arrangement of the eyes of the spiders in your photos. The brown recluse spider has six eyes, while most other spiders have eight, and they are arranged in a specific pattern. I recommend that you take some examples to a local expert, an entomologist or arachnologist at a local university, your local Cooperative Extension Service office, natural history museum or a structural pest control professional with experience in dealing with brown recluse spiders to have them verify your identification.

Based on your description, it sounds like you have more spiders turning up in your apartment than a person would reasonably expect to see in such a short time frame. However, I'm not qualified to give you a legal opinion on whether or not you have what constitutes an infestation in the state of Illinois. Your attorney should be able to advise you on examples of authorities within the state of Illinois whose opinions of whether or not you have an infestation would be recognized by the court in this sort of legal action.

Here is a link to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development website that lists agencies who can provide information on tenant's rights in Illinois:

This is a link to a document published by the Illinois Department of Public Health on brown recluse and black widow spiders that provides information about infestations, life cycles and treatment strategies:

Hope this information helps and thank you for using Ask an Expert.