Reclusive Danger

Ginger Glasco of Jonesboro remembers what one spider bite did to her foot. "My foot started turning red, there are lines where it was swollen," says Ginger. " It started throbbing, I could hardly walk on it, " she says.

She ended up in the hospital. Today, her foot is permanently discolored and occasionally swells. It's all because of a brown recluse spider, a poisonous creature that lives primarily in the Heartland. "This is the Heartland spider," says Lizbe Knote. Knote is an expert on these spiders. For nearly two decades she's managed Cape Kil, a company which specializes in pest control. " It's more poisonous than a rattlesnake and who would want a rattlesnake in their home?" says Knote.

She estimates up to half of all Heartland homes have brown recluse spiders. "That house I lived in was full of them," says JoAnn Haymaker, also of Jonesboro. A brown recluse bit her and she didn't even know it. "I was asleep, I didn't know. When I woke up I wondered what the pain was," she says.

The bite looked like Ginger's, with a pimple-like head, but JoAnn's doctor spent a week cutting out rotting flesh out of her back. " I had a puss bag ... 15 by 15," says Haymaker.

But brown recluse spiders aren't aggressive and they're not likely to attack you. They tend to live in restful, undisturbed areas like closets, attics, even in a chest of drawers. It's usually when you come across them and don't know it that you're most likely to get bit.

That's what happened to both unsuspecting Heartland women and it led to the most painful experience of their lives.