General Information

Spiders are rarely a welcome sight inside your home, but even less so when they’re venomous. While brown recluse spiders are skittish and try to stay away from humans, they do occasionally bite people. Learn more about brown recluse spiders, how to identify them, where they live, and what to do if you see one or more in your home to keep yourself and your family protected.

What Are Brown Recluse Spiders?

Image via Unsplash by @timothycdykes

Brown recluse spiders are a type of arachnid common in some areas of the United States. The brown recluse is part of the Loxosceles genus of spider. This group shares a distinguishing mark on its back that looks like a violin. While brown recluse spiders do weave webs, they don’t make them to catch prey like other spiders. Instead, they use their webs for a safe place to retreat. As their name implies, these spiders prefer seclusion.

What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Look Like?

Brown recluse spiders, like all spiders, have eight legs. They’re roughly the size of a quarter and can range in color from a whitish brown to a very dark, almost gray, brown. Brown recluse spiders have several distinguishing characteristics that can help you differentiate them from other spiders, but you have to get pretty close to see these features. The most notable is the violin or fiddle-shaped marking on their backs. Additionally, unlike most spiders that have eight eyes, brown recluse spiders only have six eyes. Their eyes are arranged in three groupings of two.

Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

Brown recluse spiders are almost exclusively found in the Midwest and south-central U.S. Other types of recluse spiders can be found in other areas of the country, but they differ from brown recluses. States in which brown recluses are native include:

Within these states, most brown recluse spiders seek shelter in well-protected, dark areas. Outside, this might be in a woodpile, beneath rocks, or under piles of leaves. Indoors, brown recluse spiders might make their home in a shoebox, an attic, a crawlspace, or another rarely visited part of the home.

Problems With Brown Recluse Spiders

The biggest issue with brown recluse spiders is their dangerous bite. Reactions to brown recluse spider bites vary, but at it’s worst, it can cause fever, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping alongside a large, deep ulcer that can take weeks to heal. Milder cases may result in pain and skin irritation. Brown recluse spiders are solitary, shy creatures that only bite when they feel threatened. However, if you reach into a box that a brown recluse has made its home, that could be enough for it to bite.

Brown Recluse Spider Control Solutions

The best way to control brown recluse spiders is to keep them from getting into your home. They often enter houses in moving boxes, through cracks in the foundation, or through poorly sealed utility pipes. Check your home for cracks and holes to keep brown recluse spiders and other pests from getting inside the house. Store rarely used or seasonal items in sealed containers to keep brown recluse spiders from making their way inside.

Should you find multiple brown recluse spiders in your home, call a pest control company. Eradication is a job for professional exterminators.

Common Brown Recluse Spider Questions

Review these frequently asked questions about brown recluse spiders to learn more.

Are Brown Recluse Spider Bites Deadly?

It’s incredibly rare for a brown recluse spider to kill you with its bite. In about 10% of cases, the bite can cause necrosis, which causes your flesh to decay. That’s unusual, and it still rarely leads to death. Despite this, it’s important that you seek medical treatment as quickly as possible after receiving a bite from a brown recluse spider to ease your symptoms.

How Big Can Brown Recluse Spiders Grow?

Most brown recluse spiders are about the size of a quarter, but some can grow larger. Since they’re so secretive and rarely spotted, it’s hard to say exactly how large they can grow, but most don’t get much bigger than 0.5 inches or 0.75 inches.

What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Like?

Brown recluse spiders prefer dark, hidden, clutter-filled spaces to make their home. Outdoors, this might be an overgrown yard, a woodpile, or rarely used yard games. Indoors, this might be crawl spaces, closets, or storage boxes. Try to keep your exterior and interior free of dark, cluttered spaces to discourage brown recluse spiders from taking up residence.

What Should You Do If You Get Bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider?

If you think you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider, follow these steps:

  1. Stay calm and still. Excess movement can increase the flow of venom into your bloodstream.
  2. Place a cold, wet cloth on the bite or a dry, clean cloth with an ice pack on top.
  3. See if you can find the spider for positive identification as a brown recluse.
  4. Call your doctor, or if symptoms are severe, head immediately to a medical facility.

While brown recluse spiders cause a lot of fear and mistrust, bites are rare. Do your best to keep your home free of brown-recluse-friendly areas, and carefully shake out any stored items before use to dislodge any hiding spiders. Should you have an infestation, get in touch with a professional pest control company to help you regain control of your home.

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