Brown Recluse Spider in Kentucky
How to Identify a Brown Recluse Spider
The reality is, a lot of you who are reading this right now have a Brown Recluse spider or three in your garage, basement, or attic, and don’t even know it. Heck, you’ll likely never see them. They are, after all, a recluse…ba-dum-dum…I’ll see myself out.
But if you would like to be able to spot these dudes, here are the things I look for when I see a spider in a house. I’ve gotten so good at it I can spot a Brown Recluse spider from across the room.
- The Brown Recluse Spider is small. Really small. They are usually no bigger than a quarter, including the legs. The picture below was taken in a garage during a home inspection in Louisville, KY. Notice the size of the spider in relation to the head of that framing nail.
- They are…wait for it…Brown in color. Shocking, I know. However, this color spectrum can range from really dark brown to almost a creamy white.
- Most spiders have 8 eyes, but a Brown Recluse Spider only has 6. Legend has it that they lost two of their eyes in a bar fight a long time ago, but I am not able to substantiate this claim. Their eyes are hard to see due to one of two things: (1) The eyes are very small and you need magnification to see them clearly, or (2) it’s hard to count spider eyes while running in the opposite direction of the spider.
- And of course, as their nickname “The Fiddler” implies, the simplest way to identify them is to look for a fiddle-shaped marking on the cephalothorax (fancy name for their back). The fiddle or violin shape is their exclusive marking. No other spider will have this marking.
Where are Brown Recluse Spiders Hiding?
As their name implies, the Brown Recluse spider is usually in dark places. They build irregular webs that frequently include a shelter consisting of random threads. During my home inspections, I see them mostly in:
- Woodpiles or stacked lumber in a shed or garage.
- Closets (especially around the ceiling)
- Just about everywhere in a crawlspace.
- Basements–around the rim joists (ceiling) and inside or around sump pumps.
- Attics, especially in insulation.
Brown Recluse spiders are more common than most people think. In fact, one of the largest infestations ever recorded was in Kansas in 2001. Over 2,000 brown recluse spiders were removed from a home where the people lived for years. Not one bite occurred in that house.
Treatment for Brown Recluse Spiders
It’s important to remember that generally, Brown Recluse Spiders are not aggressive. In fact, they are usually the opposite. However, they will bite you if they are handled or feel threatened. A common cause of bites occurs from the spider becoming trapped in an article of clothing or shoe. They crawl in your old pants hanging in the closet, and when you put them on…you get bit.
Personally, I’ve not been bit. But I’ve read many reports where victims state that they never felt the bite happen, but the necrosis that takes place a few days later can be… gross. If you would like to see images of rotting flesh from a Brown Recluse bite, here you go. Click at your own risk: Google Images search of Brown Recluse Bites.
If you think you have been bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, you should try to catch the dude (dead or alive) and seek medical attention as fast as possible. Death from a Brown Recluse bite is extremely rare, but it has happened.
The odds of getting bit are really low if you don’t do stupid things like try and handle a Brown Recluse spider. If you think you may have them in your house you should call a pest control company. This is one of those times you don’t want to get all DIY. Most pros will want to set sticky traps in the areas where the spiders are most active. Give it a few days and then check the traps. This can help gauge how bad your problem is. Then you can develop a plan of attack. You can also break out the biological warfare (chemical spray) if needed, but understand that this usually takes multiple treatments and is not a one-time thing.
Though Brown Recluse bites are rare and the potential exists for you to cohabitate peacefully in your house with these bar-fighting arachnids, you don’t want to. If you see them, call a pro.
Brown Recluse Spiders FAQ
I’ve fielded several questions about Brown Recluse so I added this small FAQ section for quick answers.
What do Brown Recluse spiders look like?
The unique characteristic of Brown Recluse spiders is the violin-shaped marking on the back of the spider just behind its head. The handle of the violin will face toward the abdomen. Baby Brown Recluse spiders may not have this marking until they grow into adults.
How big are Brown Recluse spiders?
Brown Recluse spiders are typically 1/4 to 3/4-inch including their legs. An adult spider is about the size of a quarter. Some may get over 1-inch. They are not very big spiders.
Are Brown Recluse spiders poisonous?
Yes. While the bites of a Brown Recluse spider are rarely fatal to adults, they can cause severe necrosis (tissue death). Any person who gets bit by a Brown Recluse spider should seek medical attention immediately.
What do Brown Recluse spiders eat?
Brown recluse spiders eat mostly soft-bodied insects such as crickets, cockroaches, moths, and flies. They are also known to eat other Brown Recluse spiders (cannibalistic). Brown Recluse spiders are nocturnal hunters. They chase down their prey with speed and do not use webs to catch their food.
Where are Brown Recluse Spiders found?
Brown Recluse spiders are found in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.
Can Brown Recluse spiders kill you?
No. The venom of a Brown Recluse spider will not kill you. However, the wound can cause a severe infection if not properly treated. If you think you have been bit by a Brown Recluse, you will want to seek medical attention.
Are Brown Recluse spiders fast?
Yes. Brown Recluse spiders are lighting fast when spooked. While generally not aggressive, they will bite if they feel threatened.
Where do Brown Recluse spiders hide?
Brown Recluse spiders are often found in:
- Woodpiles or stacked lumber in a shed or garage
- Closets (especially around the ceiling)
- Just about everywhere in a crawlspace
- Basements–around the rim joists (ceiling) and inside or around sump pumps
- Attics, especially in insulation
How many legs do Brown Recluse spiders have?
Brown Recluse Spiders have 8 legs.
Are Brown Recluse spiders hairy?
No. The hairy Wolf Spider is commonly misidentified as a Brown Recluse. Brown Recluse spiders do not have much hair that is visible to the naked eye.
How many eyes does a Brown Recluse spider have?
Brown Recluse spiders have six eyes. They have 3 sets of two. Two in the front, and a set of two that flank each side.