Brown recluse spiders, also known as fiddleback or violin spiders, are a species of venomous spiders that are commonly found in the United States.
These spiders are recognized by their dark, violin-shaped marking on their cephalothorax and their unique arrangement of six eyes instead of the usual eight in most spiders.
As with most spiders, brown recluses create webs for different purposes such as resting, hiding, or capturing prey.
However, their webs are not the typical orb-shaped structures that many people associate with spiders.
Instead, brown recluse spiders build irregular, rather unorganized webs in undisturbed locations like dark and sheltered areas.
Brown Recluse Spider Basics
Brown recluse spiders, also known as Loxosceles reclusa, are primarily found in the south, west, and midwest areas of the United States.
These states include Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.
These spiders are commonly called violin spiders due to the distinct violin-shaped marking on their cephalothorax.
They have a unique eye pattern, with six eyes arranged in three pairs. Typically, brown recluse spiders prefer dark, sheltered areas such as:
- Under rocks
- In the bark of dead trees
Brown recluse spiders exhibit several distinguishing features:
- 6-20 millimeters body length
- Long legs
- Triad arrangement of eyes
- Violin-shaped marking on cephalothorax
These spiders are known for their bite, which can cause local tissue injury known as dermo necrotic arachnidism.
They hunt their prey using the venom in their bite, rather than by jumping on them.
Brown recluse spiders have a slow development process influenced by nutrition and environmental conditions, maturing in about a year and living for an average of 2 to 4 years.
Habitat and Behavior
The brown recluse spider is known for its unique habitat preferences and behaviors.
In this section, we’ll explore where these spiders prefer to live, both indoors and outdoors.
Brown recluse spiders can often be found in various parts of a home. They are typically attracted to:
- Basements: These spiders love dark, dry, and climate-controlled spaces.
- Attics: Brown recluse spiders gravitate towards undisturbed areas where they are less likely to encounter humans.
- Closets: Clothing provides an ideal hiding spot for spiders and their prey, insects.
Common indoor hiding spots include:
- Cracks and crevices in furniture
- Behind wall hangings
Being nocturnal hunters, they spend the day in their hiding areas and come out at night to hunt.
Outdoor Habitats: Do Brown Recluse Spiders Make Webs?
When residing outdoors, brown recluse spiders can be found in:
- Tree hollows
- Leaf litter
While these spiders do spin small webs, they are not used for catching prey. Instead, the web serves as a retreat and a place to rest during the day.
Signs and Prevention of Infestation
Brown recluse spiders are known for their elusive nature and preference for dark, secluded spaces. To effectively manage and prevent infestations, implementing an integrated pest management program is crucial.
These spiders tend to inhabit areas such as garages, cellars, storage boxes, tires, logs, and barns. They may also find their way into linens and undisturbed places within your home.
A key sign of a brown recluse infestation is their characteristic cephalothorax pattern. They have a distinct violin shape on this region, along with a unique eye pattern of 6 eyes in pairs.
Another sign to look for is their molted skins, which have an outstretched appearance, helping to confirm their presence.
To prevent infestations, focus on the following measures:
- Install sticky traps in dark areas, like garages and cellars, to catch wandering spiders
- Keep woodpiles, leaves, and other debris away from your home’s foundation
- Seal gaps around doors and windows to limit access
- Store items in sealed plastic containers to reduce potential hiding spots
Brown recluse spiders mainly construct their webs in hidden, undisturbed areas, as opposed to the large, elaborate webs made by orb weavers.
They lay their eggs in these secluded locations, averaging 1-2 egg masses per year.
Brown Recluse Spider Bites
Brown recluse spider bites can cause a range of symptoms in humans. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain or redness at the site of the bite
The spider’s venom can also cause a venomous bite, which can result in a scar or more severe reactions.
If bitten by a brown recluse spider, it is important to seek medical attention. Treatment options often include:
- Cleaning the bite area with soap and water
- Applying a topical antibiotic
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
- Following doctor’s recommendations
Note: To help prevent brown recluse spider bites, it is essential to follow label directions when using residual pesticides and dust pesticides in the home.
In conclusion, brown recluse spiders, characterized by their violin-shaped markings and unique eye arrangement, are a notable species in the U.S.
While they do spin webs, these are primarily for resting and not for prey capture. Recognizing their habitats and behaviors can aid in preventing unwanted encounters.
Their bites, although rare, can lead to severe symptoms, making awareness and prevention crucial.
By understanding their nature and taking preventive measures, we can coexist safely with these intriguing arachnids.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about brown recluse spiders. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Brown Recluse
Location: Decatur, Alabama
August 6, 2010 8:33 am
I already know what this one is, but I thought you might want another photo of a brown recluse spider. I find them from time to time after they get trapped in my bathroom sink (like this one).
Thank you for providing our readership with a nice clear image of a Brown Recluse. The dark violin marking on the cephalothorax is plainly visible in your photograph.
Letter 2 – Brown Recluse
my photogenic friend
Isn’t he cute!
Your cute friend is a Brown Recluse.
Letter 3 – Brown Recluse
Hi, just sending this again, in case it got lost in the metamorphosis shuffle! My big question about this brown recluse is the fact it is two colors, i.e., brown thorax, white abdomen. Any insights as to why that is? Have a great day!
Originally sent: (02/01/2008) Hello Bugman! I live in Arkansas and I know our house is infested with brown recluses. I have just never seen one with a whitish abdomen before. In all respects it sure looks like a brown recluse to me. Could this be a female about to lay eggs?
The spider is about half an inch. I found it crawling in a box of clothes. If this is a brown recluse, you might want to post the photo so people know the spider’s color can vary like this. I thought they were not active in winter?
This is very scary as I have had two bites, the last one this summer and it was a systemic, severe reaction. Thanks,
Your example of a Brown Recluse, Loxosceles reclusa, is consistant with images posted to BugGuide. This species a uniformly colored abdomen, but sometimes is is light and other times darker. The violin shaped marking on on the cephalothorax is distinctive, giving this spider the other common name of Violin Spider.
Letter 4 – Brown Recluse
Found this crawling on my arm in Tucson, AZ. Any ideas on what it is?? Thanks!
We have had ever so many letters containing paranoid questions wondering if just about every size and color spider that lives in the U.S. might be a Brown Recluse. You have the real McCoy here, Loxosceles reclusa.
The brown recluse is a male (very gangly compared to females). Keep up the great work!
Letter 5 – Brown Recluse and Jeff’s Injured Toe
Photo of Brown Recluse
Attached you will find 2 pictures that my boyfriend, Jeff, took at his parent’s home that is located just west of Ft. Worth in Texas. The first picture is one of the best I have seen of a brown recluse spider!
He found it behind the trashcan in his parent’s guest bathroom – there were a few other spiders with it that were much smaller and they successfully scattered before Jeff could return with a jar to capture them with.
The second photo is a picture of his pinky toe that he slammed into the bathroom door jam in his excitement to find a ‘suitable’ container for his prize…. Poor thing is walking hilariously, all for his precious spider.
Jeff is fascinated with all types of insects, ESPECIALLY spiders! He has re-trained me from killing all spiders, to first observing and identifying before I decide to catch and release all into the yard.
We both have become intrigued with bugs and have become recent fans of your website. Thank you for all of the information and pictures you provide, I hope you can make use of the brown recluse photo – I think it is quite good!
Thank you for sending in the wonderful image of a Brown Recluse or Violin Spider, Loxosceles reclusa. The violin pattern is very obvious in the photo. We hope Jeff’s toe is healing.