How Can You Identify a Brown Recluse Spider?

can-identify-brown-recluse-spider Credit: James H Robinson/Oxford Scientific/Getty Images

The brown recluse spider can be identified by its half-inch-long body that is light brown and has a darker brown, fiddle-shaped mark on the upper cephalothorax (the part of its body between its head and its abdomen). It is also unusual in that it has six eyes instead of the usual eight found in most other spiders.

Although most spiders are venomous, the brown recluse is one of two spiders found in North America whose venom is dangerous to human beings. While deaths are rare, the bite of the brown recluse destroys the cells around the wound, which may lead to gangrene. The dead skin may also slough away from the area. This injury heals slowly and may leave an ugly scar.

Fortunately, the brown recluse is shy. It's a nocturnal animal that rests during the day in dark places and comes out at night to hunt insects.

After courtship and mating, the female lays hundreds of eggs in a cocoon, which she either hangs on a plant or carries. The spiderlings hatch after a fortnight or so.

The brown recluse is found in the United States from east Texas east to the western edge of Georgia and north into Illinois.