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Pest Control/Spiders, Termites, & Rats, Oh My


Brown Recluse
Brown Recluse  
I have been hit with triple trouble this year:  spiders, rats, termites.  I live in South Eastern Virginia.  

First spiders:  In June spiders began biting me and my toddler.  I had a severe reaction to one bite on my arm.  I threw out all card board boxes and went plastic containers.  Also washed all clothes and emptied clutter under sinks.  Made a deal with my neighbor and removed a border tree that I could see web filaments extending to my roof.  After several bombing campaigns in bedrooms and attic, interior base board sprays, boric acid at the walls and inside cabinets, and glue traps... I successfully caught one brown recluse in a glue trap (photo attached).  Two more died from all the pesticides and I found two egg sacks and destroyed them.  During the campaign I found ear wigs in the attic and three in the bed rooms caught in glue traps.  Now in December my toddler got bit again at night and there are little dangling web-threads along the ceiling-wall intersection.  Nothing is in the glue traps.  How can I get ride of them all!  Mainly the brown recluse!!!

Rats:  I found during an attic inspection small feces in tunneled out area of my blown in fiberglass insulation.  It looked pretty dry.  I went to my crawl space and put out bait below the air handler and bait in the air handler storage area under the steps.  I got a rat kill in the crawl space and removed it.  I removed rat feces all over the moisture barrier.  I put hard ware wire over my intake crawl vents.  I mortared the AC hose/tube penetrations at the wall and several other openings.  Things look well sealed.  Should I get the attic insulation replaced?  It has been suggested to go for two types: boric acid cellulose and Nibane bordered fiberglass insulation.  Which one?  Should I replace my crawl space insulation and moisture barrier?

Termites:  I have interviewed three pest companies and during one inspection found termites in the unattached garage.  Can't find any evidence in the house of termites (no visible tunnels in crawl space, no wings on windowsills, roof looks okay).  Front of house is brick.  Back of house is brick for at bottom 24" then wood with siding over it.  I mulched the front of the house for two year, but now I am removing the mulch (suspect it had bugs).  Drainage around the house is okay (gutters and extended spouts).  Which subterranean treatment should I pursue?  What about additional treatment in the crawl space directly on the wood?  

By the way, I'm the center unit of a three unit town house structure.  Can I save my home?

I'm almost overwhelmed.  Appreciate your thoughts on how I should proceed?  I can send more photos if you like.


Sticky traps are the best way to control spiders in homes (see for suggestions about using traps) so you are on the right track. Brown recluse spider does not occur in southeastern Virginia so the one you have must be something else but similar in appearance. There are many spiders that look similar to the recluse (see and click on the range map link).

I'm not the rat expert (I do bugs) but there are other rat experts in this group.

Termites are usually controlled with a foundation treatment and baits (see which can be a DIY project. It this case since you have no damage and have not found any shelter tubes you might be ok to just use baits.

Post a follow up if you have questions.

Jack DeAngelis  

Pest Control

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions about the control of pest insects, spiders, mites and related arthropods. These household pests include termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, nuisance ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, wasps, and many others. I can also answer questions about using pesticides and other pest control tools such as baits and traps.


I am a retired university extension entomologist. I've taught and conducted research in urban and agricultural entomology. I've published over 70 extension publications, 20 research publications and several books about insects.

Ph.D. in Entomology

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