Brown Recluse Spiders … What you Should Know

Brown Recluse Spiders … What you Should Know
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In the mature brown recluse spider, as well as, some other species of recluse spiders, the dark violin marking is well

Brown Recluse Spider

defined, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the bulbous abdomen. The abdomen is uniformly colored, although the coloration can range from light tan to dark brown, and is covered with numerous fine hairs that provide a velvety appearance. The long, thin, brown legs also are covered with fine hairs, but not spines. Adult brown recluse spiders have a leg span about the size of a quarter. Their body is about 3/8 inches long and about 3/16 inches wide. Males are slightly smaller in body length than females, but males have proportionally longer legs. Both sexes are venomous. The immature stages closely resemble the adults except for size and a slightly lighter color. Whereas most spiders have eight eyes, recluse spiders have six eyes that are arranged in pairs in a semicircle on the forepart of the cephalothorax. In order to determine the exact species of Loxosceles, the spider’s genitalia need to be examined under a high power microscope. This require the skills of a spider expert.

Life Cycle & Habits:

Egg laying primarily occurs from May through July. The female lays about 50 eggs that are encased in an off-white silken sac that is about 2/3-inch in diameter. Each female may produce several egg sacs over a period of several months. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sac in about a month or less. Their development is slow and is influenced by weather conditions and food availability. It takes an average of one year to reach the adult stage from time of egg deposit. Adult brown recluse spiders often live about one to two years. They can survive long periods of time (about 6 months) without food or water.

The brown recluse spider spins a loose, irregular web of very sticky, off-white to grayish threads. This web severs as the spider’s daytime retreat, and it often is constructed in an undisturbed corner. This spider roams at night searching for insect prey. Recent research at the University of Kansas indicates that the brown recluse spider is largely a scavenger, preferring dead insects. Mature males also roam in search of females.

Webs are usually Irregular with no real rhyme or reason


Brown recluse spiders generally occupy dark, undisturbed sites, and they can occur indoors or outdoors. In favorable habitats, their populations are usually dense. They thrive in human-altered environments. Indoors, they may be found in attics, basements, crawl spaces, cellars, closets, and ductwork or registers. They may seek shelter in storage boxes, shoes, clothing, folded linens, and behind furniture. They also may be found in outbuildings such as barns, storage sheds, and garages. Outdoors, brown recluse spiders may be found underneath logs, loose stones in rock piles, and stacks of lumber.

The brown recluse spider is not aggressive, and it normally bites only when crushed, handled or disturbed. Some people have been bitten in bed after inadvertently rolling over onto the spider. Others have been bitten after accidentally touching the spider when cleaning storage areas. Some bites occur when people put on seldom used clothing or shoes inhabited by a brown recluse.

Areas found in:

  • Under / behind or beneath furniture
  • Appliances
  • Carpets
  • Behind baseboards and door facings
  • In corners and crevices
  • Stored clothing or items boxed. (once checked, seal boxes so they can’t get in)
  • Old Shoes
  • Underneath tables and chairs
  • In folded bedding and stored linen, towels etc. that haven’t been used for long periods of time.
  • In vents, plug ins, light switches and light fixtures on the walls or ceilings
  • Outdoors in debris/wood piles, under loose bark and stones
  • Remove items outside lying up against or propped against siding outside
  • In storage sheds and garages
  • Behind kitchen and bath baseboard voids
  • Behind cracks in door/window facings, corners and any crevices
  • Basements – above dropped ceiling areas

Use plastic gloves and long sleeves when cleaning:

  • Shake out clothing and shoes before dressing
  • inspect bedding and towels before using.
  • Do not go barefoot
  • Remove trash, old boxes, piles of lumber, old clothing and other unwanted items
  • Eliminate cluttered areas in basements, closets, attics, sheds and garages
  • Dust and vacuum thoroughly and more frequently around windows, corners in rooms, under furniture, in storage areas and any undisturbed places to eliminate spiders, webs and egg sacs. (Clean vacuum tank or remove bag and dispose of after vacuuming)
  • Install screens on doors and windows to prevent re-entry. Seal and caulk cracks and crevices where they could enter the house. If thought to be outside, power wash the house and roof eves. It can be helpful to treat the yard

Even with control efforts, total elimination can be difficult. This is due in part because adult spiders pend little time in direct contact with surfaces and entering treated zones. Usually customer’s may not see any for long periods of time. This is due to the fact that most re-infestation is from outside sources. Treatment for several months up to a year is recommended after initial treatment.

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