Brown Recluse: The Deadly Spider That Hides in Your Clothes

Brown Recluse SpiderPhoto: Br-recluse-guy

In the United States, many spiders live in buildings and in the wild. Most are not dangerous to humans; but of the very few spiders that can kill us, the Brown Recluse or Fiddleback Spider (Loxosceles reclusa) can be more dangerous simply because it is so well adapted to living indoors. Found primarily in the southern central and midwestern states of the USA, the Brown Recluse very rarely ventures outside of its range.

Fiddleback SpiderPhoto: Lisa Ames, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The unique violin marking on the spider’s back (the neck of the violin points to its rear end) makes identification fairly easy. Another oddity that sets the Recluse apart is that instead of the usual eight eyes which most spiders possess, the Brown Recluse has six.

Spider EyesPhoto: mattb and pennywisdom2099

This spider hunts by night and does not spin a web. The Brown Recluse can only bite when it is pressed against our skin, such as if we step on it barefoot or brush an arm against it accidentally. Its bite cannot penetrate clothing.

Brown ReclusePhoto: Br-recluse-guy

While the bite itself is painless, you’ll find that three to eight hours later, the area becomes swollen and tender. Most of the time this is all that happens and in two or three weeks, you’re all right again.

But occasionally the venom can produce a deep ulcer that takes several months to heal. Death from this spider’s venom is rare and usually involves an allergic reaction to the venom.

If you find you’ve been bitten by the Brown Recluse:
• Apply ice;
• Elevate the area if possible; and
• Seek medical attention at once.

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