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Brown Recluse SpidersLoxosceles reclusa
Light to dark brown, with characteristic dark brown violin marking on back
¼ - ½ inch long
Found in the south central Midwest from Ohio to Nebraska and south through Texas to Georgia
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 have an infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.
Infestation & Prevention
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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 antivenom 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.
Female brown recluse spiders deposit 40-50 eggs in a silken egg sac, which is off-white, with the outer covering loosely woven. Each sac contains between 31-300 eggs. The eggs hatch in 25-39 days and the spiderlings undergo at least one molt within the sac before emerging. The development period (egg to adult) averages 336 days.
Indoors, male brown recluse spiders live an average of 543 days, and females live 628 days, but 4-5 years is not uncommon. The female spins an irregular web in undisturbed areas, like the garage, attic and basement. The web is not used to catch prey, but rather as a retreat.
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. Their prey are primarily insects.
Brown recluse spiders often live outdoors where they are typically found around rocks, utility boxes and woodpiles. Indoors, brown recluses can be found in any undisturbed area, such as inside boxes, among papers, in seldom-used apparel and shoes, under furniture or in crevices of window moldings. Closets, attics, crawl spaces and basements are the most common brown recluse spider hiding spots.
Both male and female brown recluse spiders can bite and inject venom. Injection of their venom may produce necrosis or dead tissue, resulting in an ulcerating type of sore. Healing is very slow and usually takes several weeks, resulting in dense scar tissue. In severe cases, plastic surgery may be required.