What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat?

Brown recluse spiders are perhaps most famous for their bite. And it’s understandable why—brown recluse spiders are one of the more dangerous spiders that you can find in the United States. But just because a brown recluse spider bites a human doesn’t mean they do so to feed, unlike other pests that bite such as mosquitoes. So you may be wondering, what do brown recluse spiders eat?

Brown recluse spiders

Brown recluse spiders hunt

Brown recluse spiders are considered to be hunting spiders. That’s because unlike other spiders that rely on their webs to catch prey, hunting spiders attack their prey without the use of webs. There are two methods of hunting, active and passive; active hunters will go after their prey while passive hunters will wait for prey to come close enough before they attack. Brown recluse spiders are mostly considered to be active hunters, and pursue their prey during the nighttime hours.

Like many other spiders, the brown recluse has a diet that consists of insects—and sometimes it may even eat other spiders. Brown recluse spiders chase down their prey, and use their venom to subdue it. One interesting note is that brown recluses are also thought to be scavengers. A 2008 study found that brown recluse spiders preferred live prey, but would also eat dead prey, especially that which was recently killed. The study concluded that scavenging is an opportunistic behavior in the brown recluse.

While there is a lot of fear surrounding the brown recluse spider bite, the spider is actually not found in areas with high human activity and is quite a shy one (as the name recluse suggests). Brown recluse spiders will usually only bite humans if they are disturbed, feel threatened, or under attack. In fact, one way the bites occur is if a person inadvertently rolls over on a brown recluse during their sleep. If you do believe you have been bitten by a brown recluse or other spider, Mayo Clinic lists several steps to follow on their website. Reactions to brown recluse spider bites or other spider bites can vary from person to person, and may resemble bites from other arthropods or a skin condition.

Some other hunting spiders include the sac spider, the fishing spider, and the wolf spider. In fact, the wolf spider is sometimes mistaken for the brown recluse but there is one easy tip to tell the two apart. Head to the next section to find out what it is.

How do you know if it’s a brown recluse spider?

As mentioned before, the brown recluse spider is one of the most feared spiders found in the United States. However, it’s not found in every state. The brown recluse is primarily found through the south central and Midwestern United States. And, even in those states it’s not very common to come across one. However, if you live within that region and come across a spider you think is a brown recluse, these are some common physical traits to be on the lookout for:

  1. Size: Roughly the size of a United States quarter when its legs are fully extended.
  2. Color: Ranges from a lighter tan to a darker brown, with uniform coloring throughout its legs. This may differ in other spiders. For example, the wolf spider, which is sometimes mistaken for the brown recluse, has visibly banded legs.
  3. Distinguishing marks or traits: Unlike other spiders with eight eyes, the brown recluse spider only has six eyes—though this would not be a trait you could always easily identify without a means of magnification. Many consider the more helpful distinguishing mark to be the violin-shaped mark on the brown recluse spider’s back. This mark is visible to the naked eye.
  4. No webs: As mentioned in the previous section, brown recluse spiders mostly do not hunt using webs. Therefore, if you see a lot of noticeable webbing—particularly suspended webbing along walls and in corners—there’s a good chance you’ve got another species or family of spider on your hands.
  5. Activity: Brown recluse spiders are nocturnal and will mostly hide out during daylight hours.

If you fear that you have a brown recluse spider population or you’re simply dealing with any unwanted spiders, don’t hesitate to contact Terminix. A Terminix pest professional will be able to help you manage a wide variety of spider infestations.

 

 

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