If you see a spider in your home, your first instinct might not be to look closer. But, it’s useful to be able to tell between different types of spiders as some could be more dangerous than others. Two spiders that could be mistaken for each other are the woodlouse spider and the brown recluse spider, though they’re actually quite different. Keep reading to learn the similarities and differences between the two.

brown recluse spider

The woodlouse spider

Woodlouse spiders have pale bodies, with reddish-brown heads and legs. Woodlouse spiders grow to be about a half-inch in length, and they have distinctive front jaws that they use to feed on woodlice. While the jaws are fairly alarming, they don’t usually pose a danger to humans (woodlouse spiders usually only bite humans if they feel threatened, and the bites usually only cause mild irritation for a short period of time). Woodlouse spiders prefer to live in moist areas near food supplies, such as under rocks, woodpiles, and garbage cans.

The brown recluse spider

The brown recluse spider, as you may have guessed, is usually brown in color. It’s usually between a quarter of an inch and three -quarters of an inch. The brown recluse spider is sometimes called the violin spider because of the darker violin-shaped mark on its back. It is most commonly found across the southern and central Uni ted States. Brown recluse spiders are commonly found outdoors but can also live comfortably indoors and cohabitate with humans. Because they’re nocturnal, they’ll usually hide in dark enclosed places during daylight hours. While brown recluse spiders are not usually aggressive—like other spiders they’ll be shy—they do have a potentially dangerous bite. Some spider bites could result in a rash, itchiness, pain, chills, or muscle cramping, but symptoms can vary by person and by bite. Brown recluse spider bites can be more serious and may often cause a bump or pustule, and in very rare cases may result in necrosis, which is rotting flesh.

On occasion, because of the physical traits, brown recluse spider bites can be confused with skin cancer—or vice versa. If you believe you’ve been bitten by a spider, the CDC lists a few steps to take. If you can do it safely, they recommend identifying what kind of spider bit you as this will aid medical treatment. They also recommend using a cold cloth to reduce swelling and keeping the area where you were bitten elevated if possible. Finally, you should seek professional medical treatment.

The similarities
  • Both spiders have six eyes, two fewer than the eight eyes that spiders commonly have
  • Woodlouse spiders and brown recluse spiders are bot h shy, usually avoiding humans
  • Both spiders, like most spider species have venom, though the venom of a woodlouse spider is much milder
  • Both spiders have similar, though not the same, body shapes
  • Both spiders are nocturnal and therefore most active at night
The differences
  • Brown recluse spiders have a distinct, violin-shaped marking on their backs, while woodlouse spiders have a solid gray back.
  • Woodlouse spiders also have reddish-brown heads and legs while brown recluse spiders are a more uniform brown color
  • Woodlouse spiders have distinct jaws that jut forward

How to Keep Spiders out of your Home

While spiders are important for the environment and can be helpful in eating other pesky bugs, you might not want them in your home. There are a few steps you can follow to help make your home less attractive to any spiders that might try and make themselves at home.
  • Remove clutter to eliminate places for spiders to shelter and/or build webs, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Seal gaps and cracks that spiders could enter through
  • Use a broom or vacuum to remove webbing and any visible eggs to keep new spiders from hatching
  • If you are trying to check for the presence of spiders, you can use sticky traps placed around walls, under furniture, and under appliances
  • If you see insects that have been caught in spider webs, be sure to eliminate those from your home as well as they act as food sources for spiders

If you’re dealing with unwanted spiders in your home, especially ones that could be dangerous, don’t wait to contact a Terminix pest professional. They’ll be able to help you manage your spider problem safely and properly.

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