Common to many southern and Midwestern states, the brown recluse thrives in the Texas climate. While it tends to keep to itself and avoid human contact, it will attack if it feels provoked. What’s worse, if bitten by a brown recluse spider, you’ll start to suffer from severe nausea, chills, fever, and pain within 24 hours. The brown recluse likes to hide in dark areas inside homes, under houses, in debris piles, and within cellars. It can be distinguished by its six eyes that sit in three pairs in a violin pattern along its back.
Brown Recluse Spider Identification
Yellowish-tan to light brown, with a dark brown violin design on its back
Shape & Structure
8 legs and round in shape. The brown recluse is most commonly recognized by its signature violin pattern on the back of its cephalothorax. The depiction of the instrument has its neck pointing toward the rear, with its base on the head of the spider. They are part of the Loxosceles genus harboring 6 eyes total, however, the eyes are too small to be seen without assisted vision.
The brown recluse lives for about 2 years. Its eggs are encased in a silken sac, and the female can lay up to 50 eggs at a time, 5 times a year. Eggs are produced between May and July, and hatchlings molt within the mother’s web up to 7 times before reaching adulthood. Brown recluse spiders only bite when threatened. They are usually pressed against the victim’s skin when they attack. Despite creating webs in dark, warm, dry environments, such as attics, closets, and wood piles, they do not use their webs to capture prey. The brown recluse usually has all of its 8 legs on the ground. However, in certain situations, it will lift its front legs to show assertiveness. The spider is mostly a scavenger, leaving its web at night to feed on dead insects it finds. When needed, it will kill live prey as well.
Habitat & Behavior
Brown recluse spiders often live outdoors in debris and wood piles. They can be found indoors in storage areas and dark recesses, including attics, basements, and barns. They are native to Midwestern and Southeastern states. Fewer than 10 individual spiders have been collected outside of these stated, however with increasing travel, individual spiders and accompanying bites should not be automatically disregarded. Non-brown recluse spiders have never been reported to cause death.
Prevention & Treatment
To avoid brown recluse spiders, avoid keeping clothing on the floor. Store clothing and shoes inside plastic containers, and shake out all clothing that has been in a hamper before wearing or washing. Initially, brown recluse bites appear mildly red and can produce visible fang marks upon closer inspection. Some may feel minor burning, similar to a bee sting after the bite. Symptoms develop usually 2-8 hours after, causing typically minor tissue destruction directly surrounding the bite. In severe, rare cases the bite can cause severe destructive necrotic lesions; death from brown recluse spiders have been reported only in children younger than 7 years. Treatment for brown recluse spider bites may include a tetanus immunization, pain medication, and antibiotics.