What are Brown Recluse Spiders?
Often identified by a dark brown violin shape on its back, the brown recluse spider is predominantly found in the Midwest and Southeast of the United States. This species is well known for its “cryptic” behaviors, as it prefers to take residence in warm, dry, and dark environments, such as woodpiles, basements, and closets.
This arachnid bites, usually unintentionally when it feels trapped, typically when a hand or foot reaches into a shoe or piece of clothing or a box in the attic or basement where a brown recluse has made its home. Because their bites can take three or more hours to develop and about three weeks to heal, it is important to keep an eye on the individual after a bite occurs. The brown recluse venom can cause severe allergic reactions, notably in children, the elderly or those with preexisting medical conditions.
The brown recluse or fiddleback/violin spider gets its common names from its coloration and reclusive habits, or the dark violin/fiddle-shaped marking on the top of its body, just behind the mouthparts.. Brown recluse spiders are found in southern Europe, temperate Africa, and in North, Central, and South America. In the United States, brown recluse spiders are found predominantly in the Midwest and Southeast. These spiders are exceedingly rare in North Carolina, as they are not native to the state.
- Color: Light to dark brown, with characteristic dark brown violin marking on back
- Legs: 8
- Shape: Round
- Size: ¼ – ½ inch long
- Antennae: No
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What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Look Like?
Adult brown recluse spiders are usually about 1/4 to 1/2 inches in length. Their color ranges from tan to dark brown, usually with a darker fiddle-shaped marking on dorsum or top of the cephalothorax. Brown recluse spiders have six eyes arranged in three groups of two each (diads) in a semicircle. Spiderlings (immatures) are very similar to adults except they are smaller and slightly paler.
Signs of an Infestation
Signs of a brown recluse spider infestation mainly include spotting one or noticing webs in and around the home. If you are concerned about spider activity in your home, contact PMi to have a licensed pest management professional inspect your home, and take care of the problem.
Infestation & Prevention
How to Get Rid of Brown Recluse Spiders
Clothes and shoes should not be left on the floor, or they must be shaken out before wearing, especially if stored in the basement, garage, or other dark are. It’s good practice to store seldom-used items, such as boots, baseball mitts, skates, gardening clothes, and gloves, in tightly sealed plastic bags or box.
Brown Recluse Spider Bites
The bite of a brown recluse spider is usually not felt, but it may produce an immediate stinging sensation followed by intense pain or this reaction may be delayed for 6-8 hours. A small blister usually appears and the surrounding bite area becomes swollen. Symptoms include restlessness, fever and difficulty sleeping. The dead tissue gradually sloughs away during the next 10-14 days, leaving an open ulcer and possibly exposing the underlying muscles and/or bone. An anti-venom has been developed but it is not clinically available.
Call a physician or go to an emergency room immediately if bitten and take the spider along for identification purposes. It should be noted that not all brown recluse bites result in ulcer formation, and that bites of other arthropods may cause similar reactions in people.
Outside, brown recluse spiders are typically found around rocks, piles of inner tubes, utility boxes, woodpiles, under bark, etc. These spiders have been found in such places as cedar shake roofs.
Inside the home, brown recluse spiders can be found in almost any undisturbed area. They are most commonly found in boxes, among papers, and in seldom-used clothing and shoes, although they can be found in corners, underneath tables and chairs, or in crevices such as those found along baseboards, doors, and window moldings. Storage areas such as closets, bedrooms, attics, crawl spaces, and basements are the preferred nesting areas of brown recluse spiders. In commercial buildings, brown recluse spiders may be found in heat tunnels, boiler rooms, attics, basements, storerooms, and garages.
With respect to food, brown recluse spiders prefer live small prey, such as cockroaches and crickets. If their prey is large, they would rather it to be dead, presumably to avoid damage to themselves. They prey primarily on insects.