Brown Recluse Spiders

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Loxosceles reclusa

Appearance / Identification

What Does a Brown Recluse Spider Look Like?

Brown Recluse Spider Illustration

The most telltale characteristic of brown recluse spiders is the presence of a dark, violin-shaped mark on the dorsum of the arachnid’s light brown or yellowish-brown cephalothorax. The neck of this distinct violin pattern is directed toward the abdomen. Due to this marking, brown recluses are also commonly known as fiddle-back spiders. Baby brown recluse spiders do not have this distinctive marking. It develops as the spiders grow into adulthood. To positively identify a spider as a recluse, both the eyes and fiddle marking must be seen, since other spiders may possess one or the other characteristic alone.

brown recluse image
Brown Recluse Spider

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Brown recluse spiders dwell in many of the same dark, sheltered places as black widows. They can be found in homes, barns and basements. Webs tend to appear disorganized and are built most commonly near ground level. The spider is a hunter, so the web is not intended to catch prey but instead roams around searching for prey. The brown recluse is found in the central southern part of the U.S., from Texas to the western most part of Florida.

Brown recluse spiders are shy and rarely bite unless provoked. Bites usually go unnoticed until effects manifest a few hours later. Most bites become red and fade away, but in uncommon cases necrosis or tissue damage can occur. A medical professional should be consulted if there are medical concerns.

Signs of a Brown Recluse Spider Infestation

The most likely sign of recluses are sightings of the spider.

More Information

Although urban myth purports that they are found throughout the U.S., studies have shown otherwise. Brown recluse spiders are endemic only to the American South and Midwest. Relocation of the brown recluse can occur in boxes or items moved from its native range. These usually are isolated events and do not result in an entire area becoming infested.

Many conditions are mistakenly diagnosed as brown recluse spider bites, including Lyme disease, diabetic ulcers, reactions to medication and bacterial infections.

Due to misinformation and fright, many people identify harmless spiders as brown recluses. They are also referred to as fiddleback spiders due to a distinctive marking on the thorax, which resembles a violin. Brown recluses have uniformly colored legs and abdomens; so any spider exhibiting distinct color variations and patterning on the legs or abdomen is not a brown recluse.

close-up of brown recluse spider brown recluse spider

Brown Recluse Vs. Desert Recluse

Brown Recluse Image Gallery

Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

How Strong is a Brown Recluse Spider Web?

Brown Recluse Life Cycle