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Image via flickr by K-State Research and Extension
Though they can vary in size, violin spiders are typically about the size of a US quarter.
Violin spiders, also known as brown recluse spiders, are light to dark brown spiders with very long legs and short hairs covering the legs and body segments. On top of the body, there is usually a pattern that resembles a violin.
The violin spider is a hunter and comes out at night to search for insects.
The violin spider uses its silk only for lining its retreat and for covering its eggs. It does not use the web to catch its prey. It spins a loose, irregular web of very sticky, off-white to grayish threads. The violin spider is capable of biting humans, and its cytotoxic venom causes tissue death at the bite site, which can lead to a large, infected, and lingering wound. The violin spider commonly lives inside structures, hiding within clothing, behind furnishings, and in attics and wall voids. They prefer to remain in areas of low activity and are not aggressive, only biting when provoked and threatened.
Females lay about 50 eggs, encased in a silken sac. Each female may produce several egg sacs over the span of several months. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sac within a month. It takes an average of one year to reach the adult stage and live for about one to two years.
Violin spiders can survive up to six months without food or water. The lesion from its bite is a dry, blue-gray or blue-white, irregular sinking patch with ragged edges and surrounding redness – termed the “red, white, and blue sign.”