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Ask the Orkin Man

Difference between a cellar spider and a brown recluse spider?

Question: What’s the difference between a cellar spider and a brown recluse spider?

 

ANSWER: The typical cellar spider (Pholcus phalangioides) has very long legs, a long slender abdomen and usually hangs in disorganized webs. They like to make their webs in corners of cellars, basements and garages. They spend their entire lives indoors.

Some people call this spider a “daddy long-legs.” This name is also used for another long-legged arthropod, the harvestman, which has no venom or silk glands, so it does not build a web.

The cellar spider exhibits (a bit of trivia here) an unusual behavior in that it vibrates in a circular fashion when the web is disturbed. The male of the species, another bit of trivia, will also vibrate when it is ready to mate, signaling his intentions to the female.

The cellar spider uses its venom to kill prey. The venom, however, is not a problem for humans.

The brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa), also known as a fiddleback spider, violin spider or brown fiddler, is a venomous arachnid of medical importance. When full grown, and legs extended, it is about the size of a quarter (coin). Brown recluse spiders spend most of the time hiding in dark, secluded places, hence the name “recluse.”

Brown recluse spiders are nearly uniformly pale brown to light brown. Their legs are not banded and not especially ”hairy.” The violin shape on the head region is distinct, but many other spiders also have this mark; it is not actually unique to the brown recluse.

Bites from this spider are not common, and often skin lesions such as MERSA, staph, fungal issues, etc. are misdiagnosed as a spider bite. This spider is not aggressive, and often bites result from external pressure on the spider by a body pressing the spider against a rigid surface. Not all bites result in necrotic lesions, but some may, so it is best to seek medical attention for any suspected bite. If you are able to, take the spider with you to the doctor’s office or clinic.

Nobody wants to see spiders around their homes. The issue is, why are they there? They are predators, so an abundant food source must be available, like insects. The best way to resolve this issue is to remove that food source and any other conditions that are conducive to the spiders. Call your local Orkin branch office and request an inspection by a highly trained Orkin Pest Specialist who will assess the extent of the problem and develop a customized solution to fit your needs.

Picture of Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider

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