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Brown Recluse Spiders

( Loxosceles reclusa )

Characteristics

SIZE: Adult recluse spiders are about one-quarter to one-half of an inch in length.

COLOR: Most recluse spiders are gray or light reddish-brown.

BEHAVIOR: Approximately 100 species of recluse spiders have been identified. The most common of these is the brown recluse. Many people fear this spider. While small in size, it can sometimes cause painful bites. Their venom contains a toxin that can destroy tissue, causing a small blister-like sore that sometimes grows in size.

Brown recluse spiders have bodies that are covered in fine hairs that resemble fur, and they have smooth legs. While most species of spiders have eight eyes, the brown recluse has only six eyes. One pair of eyes is placed at the center of its head, with the other two pairs placed on either side.

A brown recluse spider can often be identified by a violin or fiddle-shaped marking, which is located on its top area, known as its cephalothorax. For this reason, these spiders are sometimes referred to as fiddle back spiders. Both males and females are similar in appearance.

Habitats

There are 11 species of recluse spiders found in the United States. They are found in 15 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Reported sightings of recluse spiders have also been noted in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wyoming.

Recluse spiders live both indoors and outdoors. Inside, they are found mostly in undisturbed areas, such as inside boxes, among papers, in seldom-used clothing and shoes, under furniture or in crevices of molding and cabinetry. Outside, recluse spiders are typically found around woodpiles, rocks and stones, sheds and utility boxes. They are mostly active at night and feed on a variety of insects. They form loosely spun, unorganized webs that are often used to hide in when they feel threatened.

Tips for Control

Spiders are not intentionally harmful. Most bite defensively, after accidental contact with humans. Even then, most spider bites require no specific treatment. If, however, you suspect you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse, it’s advisable to seek medical attention right away. To eliminate recluse spiders in your home, you should:

  • Prevent them from entering by sealing any cracks or openings on the outside of your home.

  • Use a vacuum to remove any threatening webs.

  • Consult a pest management professional when dealing with a potential infestation.

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