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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Man Issues Warning About Pests in Delivery Packages After Potentially Fatal Brown Recluse Infestation

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Spiders. They’re staples in Halloween decor for a reason: They’re alien, creepy and most humans give them a wide berth no matter what kind they are.

There are two types in particular that strike more fear into the American heart than most. The black widow and the brown recluse are well known for their venomous bites that can endanger both the eldest and youngest in society.

Brown recluses are — as the name implies — rather shy creatures fond of hiding during the day. They are more active at night and don’t travel too far on their own from their hideaways.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, brown recluse spiders “are fond of building their retreats and resting on wooden surfaces, such as inside furniture, cardboard boxes, wall voids and in the wood framing of crawlspaces, basements and attics.”

“Most infested structures did not become so by brown recluse traveling over land from one house to another,” the website continues. “Moreover, brown recluse do not ‘balloon,’ that is, they do not use silk strands to disperse by wind as other spiders do.”

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“Most structures become infested when brown recluse “hitchhike” indoors on furniture, boxes and other items from infested structures.

The spiders are well-adapted for establishing themselves by hitchhiking. They are long-lived, can go for many months without eating, and are adapted to the hot, dry conditions found in many structures.”

This all creates a perfect storm of arachnids once they start to call a house home, and they can be incredibly difficult to control and trap once they’ve settled in.

Have you spotted pests like these in your packages?

One mother from Independence, Kentucky, discovered she had an abundance of the small leggy creatures when she spotted some dead ones at the edges of her home, which soon led to her finding over 25 of the venemous spiders.

“Like I would find them around the perimeters dead, and then that’s where I’d collect them,” mother Amy Lenihan told WKRC.

While the spiders are rarely fatal for healthy adults, Lenihan was worried about her 2-year-old son, Eli, as his playroom is in the basement, and brown recluse bites can be fatal for children and the elderly.

“He was playing right next to them alive,” Lenihan said.

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Cue Select Pest Control exterminator David Ohnefloss, who was able to zero in on the possible source of contamination rather quickly: A shipping box that held a Christmas tree.

“I happened to pop that box open and voila,” Ohnefloss said. “There they were. I found two live ones in there. When I picked the box up to move it, I found one underneath.”

“Packages will sit in warehouses for long periods of time and that’s all it takes is for them to get in there, duck into a box and just wait to be transferred somewhere else.”

While he caught and destroyed many of the spiders, Lenihan is still uneasy for her family, especially her toddler.

“I’m not convinced that they’re all gone,”  she said. “I’ll probably be paranoid for at least another year. We were extremely lucky that we did not find out the hard way and then didn’t know what it was.”

Ohnefloss posted on Facebook with photos of the unsightly spiders and some advice for other homeowners and package-orderers.

“If any of my peeps have packages delivered such as Amazon … … ect. always open the box outside or in your garage to prevent a possible infestation inside your home like the one I have treated today,” he wrote.

“BROWN RECLUSE SPIDERS … took me 6 hours to service a beautiful suburban home in Independence occupied by an expectant mother with a 2 year old as well … IF the little boy would have been bitten it would have most likely been life threatening.”

“If you get a shipment online to your house … unwrap the box in your garage or driveway and then dispose the box,” he said. “Don’t bring the box inside the house.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking