Tag Archives: brown recluse spider

The Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Spider
Brown recluse spiders, or Loxosceles reclusa, belong to a family including eleven indigenous US species and are also, due to a marking on their backs, known as violin or fiddle-back spiders. Because other spider family members have a similar marking, the violin shape isn’t the brown recluse’s most distinguishing feature. The thing that sets the brown recluse apart from other violin marked spiders is that brown recluse spiders only have six eyes instead of eight.

Chocolate brown/tan and measuring about .25 inches with a leg span of about 1 inch, the brown recluse’s reputation is a lot larger than its actual physical size. Brown recluse spiders mate in June or July at which time the females deposit 20 to 50 eggs, in a spherical-shaped case. Over their two-year life spans, female brown recluse spiders deposit 2 to 5 batches of eggs.

Well established in the South and Mid-west, brown recluse habitats are expanding into northern areas

Established in mid-western and southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, brown recluse spiders make the occasional appearances in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wyoming. Although brown recluse spiders are rare in these areas, they may be transported in cargo boxes and similar items from a locale where brown recluses are common.

Brown recluse bites dangerous, with physical damage

Living in caves and rodent burrows in the wild, brown recluse spiders can become pests when they take up residency in attics, under furniture in storage areas, in cracks and walls, as well as in woodpiles and other yard debris. Non-aggressive by nature, brown recluse spiders avoid humans, making their homes in dark, undisturbed places. Brown recluse spiders only bite humans as a defense when trapped or threatened. Typically this happens when someone is searching for things in an attic, moving stored items, or cleaning up woodpiles and other yard debris. Accidentally blundering into their nesting areas, humans can fall victim to brown recluse bites.

Initial bite not painful but may cause flu-like symptoms and in rare cases, death
While the initial bite from a brown recluse isn’t seriously painful, no more than a stinging sensation in most cases, brown recluse spiders inject a venom that can cause systemic flu-like symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue, nausea, chills, fever, joint pain and other more serious symptoms, such as jaundice, bloody urine and convulsions leading to death in rare cases.

Brown recluse venom contains tissue-killing neurotoxins
Because brown recluse venom contains cytotoxic neurotoxins, brown recluse bites can cause necrotic lesions that take a long time to heal. Generally, around seven hours after a brown recluse bite occurs, a small blister appears on the skin that will continue to grow. Depending on the amount of venom injected, a brown recluse wound could be as small as a dime or as large as 8 inches in diameter.

Destroying the blood vessel walls around the bite site, the tissue surrounding the bite site turns black and eventually sloughs off. Decayed tissue around the bite site can leave deep depressions in the skin and cause scar tissue to form, with healing often taking six to eight weeks or as long as a year in some cases. Due to the lengthy healing process, victims risk secondary infections as well.

Other cases of mistaken identities

Brown, medium in size with chevron patterns on their abdomens, hobo spiders, from Western Europe were introduced to the Pacific Northwest some time before the 1930s via Seattle’s international port. Unlike brown recluse spiders that naturally avoid humans, hobo spiders have been spotted running across floors in homes.

Also, many bites previously attributed to brown recluse spiders are now being acknowledged as hobo spider bites. Although hobo spiders are now taking the heat for causing the most cases of serious venomous bites in the Northwest, in many cases, hobo spider bites do not result in necrotic lesions as no venom is injected into the skin.

Ways to get rid of Brown Recluse Spiders

While brown recluse spiders aren’t known for large infestations by definition, as they tend to live in out-of-the-way places, away from other living beings, should you see more than one spider per week, you may want to contact a trusted pest control company.

The best way to avoid brown recluse spiders in your home and on your property is to make your home unattractive to all spiders and other pests, as well. Preventive measures include:

  • Excluding spiders and their prey by sealing or caulking all cracks and crevices around the foundation of your home and any points of entry in your home.
  • Be careful where you are reaching with your hands, so you don’t come in contact with one accidentally.
  • Eliminating all clutter from the interior and the exterior of your home.
  • Cleaning storage areas and attics regularly.
  • Regularly vacuuming and sweeping, as well as keeping all food items stored properly and food prep and dining areas wiped down and all food contained or deposited in closed trash containers.
  • Removing all debris, dense vegetation and woodpiles from the exterior of your home.

Cut to the Chase: Contact Truly Nolen

Cut to the chase and contact your local Truly Nolen location to ask about our Four Seasons approach to pest control. Convenient scheduling and our innovative Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system use many different techniques and materials to keep your home pest free all year-round. Contact Truly Nolen for a free pest inspection today!

Is That a Brown Recluse Spider?

Spiders are one of the most resilient and adaptable group of species on earth. And they are everywhere in Atlanta. Although sharing your home with spiders may not actually be such a bad thing – they are generally harmless to humans and kill off many home-invading pests such as centipedes, cockroaches, and ants – some are a nuisance, and even others can be deadly. Although rare, a bite from the much-feared brown recluse spider can cause severe pain and inject flesh-rotting venom into their victims.
Brown Recluse Spider

Where are these spiders found?

Not to be confused with small, brown spiders that run around pretty much everywhere on Earth, brown recluse spiders only live in a few states of the southern and central United States. In Georgia, the brown recluse lives throughout northwest Georgia, including parts of metro Atlanta, which is on the eastern fringe of the spider’s range. Individual houses can be infested but the spiders are not as common as they are in the heart of their range (i.e., the Missouri/Arkansas region).

Brown recluses are nocturnal creatures and do not like being out in the open. They prefer to hide in dry, warm, and dark areas – hence their name. Outdoors, the brown recluse prefers to live under rocks, woodpiles, and tree bark. Inside structures, they hide in closets, purses, shoes, attics, crawlspaces, wall voids, and in the clutter of houses and old barns.

Defining Characteristics

  • The body of the brown recluse spider is relatively small, about the size of a dime (1/2 inch in length). When its legs are extended, the brown recluse is slightly larger, about the size of a quarter.
  • Although the color can vary slightly, the brown recluse spider is generally light to medium and golden brown. Regardless, the body color will always be uniform in color, never multiple colors at once.
  • The legs of the brown recluse spider are uniform, always the same color and shape, and never have any stripes on them.
  • The most commonly described identifier of a brown recluse is a violin-shaped marking on the spider’s upper back, with the violin’s neck pointing toward the spider’s butt.
  • The brown recluse is among a few spiders species that have six distinct eyes (arranged in three pairs of two) instead of eight like other types of spiders.

Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Most spiders are harmless, rarely bite people, and generally do so only if threatened. Often people think they have spider bites when the irritation is actually from another cause such as a skin condition, staph infection, an insect sting, or other skin issue that mimics the symptoms of a spider bite. But the brown recluse spider is one of the few dangerous exceptions. Although rare, the main concern of a brown recluse spider bite is the venom, which can cause the tissue around the bite area to die. If left untreated the bite could develop into a life threatening illness. Affected tissue becomes gangrenous, turns black, and eventually sloughs off, leaving a depression in the skin. Healing is a slow process and leaves a scar. Brown recluse bites are most dangerous to young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.


The severity of a brown recluse spider bite may vary from none to very severe; the amount of damage depends on the amount of venom injected. The bite is often not immediately painful. Within several hours, most brown recluse bites result in a small reaction including pain, redness, itching, and swelling followed by a small blister-like sore that grows in size. The damaged area may be the size of a dime or as large as a quarter (nearly an inch in diameter).

Brown recluse spider bites can cause tissue damage and some individuals can experience much more serious symptoms. In sensitive individuals, there may be a systemic body reaction. Some of the symptoms can be flu-like and may include fever, chills, bloody urine, jaundice, joint pain, vomiting, nausea, rash, and in extremely rare cases, convulsions, and death.


The course of treatment depends on how severe the bite happens to be. Although the majority of spider bites look like little pimples or mosquito bites and usually heal by themselves.

  • Clean the bite area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold ice pack to the bite area to slow absorption of the venom.
  • Elevate and immobilize the bitten extremity.
  • If at all possible to do so safely, capture the spider so it can be properly identified.
  • Seek emergency medical treatment if the victim is a young child, if any signs of an allergic reaction occur, if the bite area becomes infected, or if the victim develops a rash or severe illness. In reality, only 10% of brown recluse spider bites require medical attention.


  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves, and boots whenever handling stored boxes, firewood, lumber, and rocks. Do not stick your hands in places you cannot see.
  • Inspect and shake out clothing and shoes before getting dressed.
  • One of the best ways to remove spiders from your home is to starve them out. Spiders will not survive if there are not enough insects getting inside your home for the spiders to eat. We can help you professionally seal up all cracks and crevices through which these insects are entering.

Not up to sharing your home with spiders?

For people who are afraid of spiders, want to sleep comfortably without worrying about a brown recluse spider infestation, or who do not want to get close to a potentially venomous creature like the brown recluse, it is best to call your Truly Nolen Atlanta pest control expert. We can keep your home or business safe from all types of spiders and other pests. Call us today for a free inspection.