The brown recluse spider can be hard to identify, as it is often mistaken for the wolf spider. The best way to identify the brown recluse spider is by its eyes. The brown recluse spider only has six eyes, where most spiders usually have eight eyes. The eyes of the brown recluse spider are arranged in three sets of two, in a semi-circle on the top of its head.
Also on the top of the body near the eyes is a darker brown spot in the shape of a violin. The violin distinction on the brown recluse spider is actually common on other spiders, therefore its eyes are the best way to correctly identify the brown recluse spider. Although, the brown recluse spider has also been given a second name because of the violin marking; the brown recluse spider can sometimes be referred to as the violin spider. Even though the violin marking can be seen on other spiders it seems to stand out more on the brown recluse, hence the second name.
Brown recluse spiders also get their name from their coloring. Generally the brown recluse spider is a tan to dark brown shade, and the color of their abdomen can vary from brown tones to yellow to even a yellow greenish tone. Other than the legs, the abdomen seems to be one of the larger parts making up the half an inch to three-fourths of an inch long brown recluse spider.
Another part of the brown recluse’s name also has meaning to its identity as the brown recluse spider. Recluse means to hide, and that is one thing the brown recluse spider is known for. Hiding in areas within a home is very common, and also outdoors. Brown recluse spiders like to live in dark secluded areas like corners, crevices, and underneath objects. They also look for places to be warm and dry when searching for a new spot to settle down in, on, or under. Popular places for the brown recluse to hide are in areas or items that are not frequently used like storage, old clothes that aren’t worn, old shoes that aren’t worn, or under furniture. If a bite does occur it is usually when cleaning is being done and these areas are being disturbed, when they usually are not bothered. People need to be extra cautious when cleaning areas that have not been touched in a while.
The central Midwest is the most popular area to find brown recluse spiders. Brown recluse spiders can also be found as far South as Texas and in the East in Georgia and only as West as Nebraska. Some say the brown recluse spider has never been into the far West, like California, while others argue that the brown recluse has been spotted in California. There are many species of recluse spiders, and some of the other species have been known to live in the West, another issue that makes it hard to identify the brown recluse spiders from other recluses. The desert recluse and the Arizona recluse are some of the species that are in the West.
Brown recluse spiders will not bite unless they are disturbed or threatened by a person, so if you come across one do your best not to panic and go into kill the spider mode. A hiding brown recluse spider equals trouble with in a household; because most incidents of people being bitten by a brown recluse spider occur when a person finds a brown recluse while cleaning or going through items that haven’t been disturbed in a while. Many times if a brown recluse is discovered a person gets scared and that makes the brown recluse scared, and often tries to defend itself by biting. If you do come across a brown recluse in a situation like this and it happens to fall or land on you just try to shake it off of you. Hopefully it lands on your clothes, because it will only bite exposed flesh. Also try not to touch the spider, as touching is like an attack for the brown recluse. Again shaking the object the spider is on is a better way to remove it. Sometimes the brown recluse spider may even be hiding in something like a robe, towel, or shower curtain. While these objects that are used often, they can still be hiding spots for brown recluse spiders. Objects like these are all perfect examples of things to shake in order to remove the brown recluse spider. Avoiding a bite from a brown recluse can be easily done too, if the person remains calm and remembers some of these tips. Keep in mind that a brown recluse spider will not attack unless disturbed or feels threatened, and they are actually very non-aggressive spiders. If a bite does happen most people won’t realize it until after the fact, so if you start to have symptoms of a spider bite go to your doctor just in case. See more about spider bite symptoms on our spider bite basic first aid blog post.
Bites from a brown recluse spider can happen at any time, more so during the night when they are out and about; as they are nocturnal. In the daytime brown recluse spiders usually rest on their webs, which are just used for resting and holding the egg sac. In the day if the brown recluse if not on its web it is probably in a hiding spot, so be aware at all times of the day for the brown recluse hiding. Also at night is when the brown recluse hunts for its food, this activity is definitely something the brown recluse spider is aggressive about. Cockroaches, crickets, firebrats, and other soft-bodied insects are what brown recluse spiders hunt down for food. When hunting their prey the brown recluse spider will use it’s venom to paralyze the prey. Once the venom has been injected into the prey its insides will liquefy! Then the brown recluse spider will leave it be for awhile, as it dies, and then come back to eat it later. Even though brown recluse spiders enjoy hunting for their food, they can actually survive up to six months without food or water.
Although brown recluse spiderlings need food to ensure they develop into adults. The brown recluse spiders mate mostly during May through June. The brown recluse spider has its own way to find a mate, as every species is a little different. When males are looking for a mate they search for her scent, usually the male can find the scent on her web or surfaces she has frequented. Once the male finds a female he wants to mate with he will then perform some moves that are like a courtship dance for the brown recluse spider. If the female is impressed, mating will occur. From there the female will lay anywhere from 40-50 eggs in a sac, and will spin a web to attach her egg sac to. Three to six weeks later the eggs will hatch into spiderlings. From then it will be about a year for the spiderlings to become adults. Once the brown recluse spider is an adult it will live two to four years. From that point the cycle will start all over as the new adults will start mating, and continue the population of brown recluse spiders.
Pictures from www.creativecommons.org