Brown Recluse Spiders
Facts, Identification & Control
Appearance / Identification
What Does a Brown Recluse Spider Look Like?
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. 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 Spider
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Brown recluse spiders dwell in dark, sheltered places and 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.
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.