How to Identify a Brown Recluse Spider

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

It’s wintertime, and that means rodents, insects, and spiders are looking for a warm place to harbor for a few more months. Your home is more likely to host pests during the cold, icy winter months than at any other time during the year. Unfortunately, some of these pests come with a bite that is much worse than their bark.

Don’t worry-an exterminator can eliminate these pests and ensure that your family and home are safe. But do you know how to recognize a dangerous pest when you see one? When is it time to call the exterminator?

Below is a guide to a venomous Illinois pest-the brown recluse spider. We want you to be able to identify this pest so that, if you see it, you know to call a pest control professional right away.

What Is a Brown Recluse?

A brown recluse spider is a spider species that lives in the United States. Their territory stretches up into Illinois, although you’re unlikely to spot one much farther north than that.

This isn’t something that most people like to think about, but some spiders are synanthropic, which means that they like to live near humans. Brown recluse spiders benefit from the shelter and warmth that humans surround themselves with, so they like to stick close.

Brown recluse spiders are one of two spider species in the US with venom that can do real harm to a human (the other is the black widow spider). Both species have venomous bites that could put someone in the hospital if they’re not careful.

How Do I Identify a Brown Recluse?

Brown recluse spiders are, not surprisingly, usually brownish. Like other species of spiders, their color and appearance can vary a bit-these spiders can be anything from light tan to blackish gray.

A brown recluse has long, spindly legs that make it appear much larger than it actually is. Its body is usually about half an inch long (although it can get bigger) and is shaped a bit like a violin (which is why you may catch older people sometimes calling it a “fiddleback spider”).

The most characteristic aspect of a brown recluse spider is its eyes. Most spiders have eight eyes, but a brown recluse only has six. We don’t recommend that you put your face close to a brown recluse to count each of its eyes, but if you need to ID the species, use a camera or magnifying glass to enlarge the spider’s appearance and count eyeballs.

Where Will I Find Them?

Like most spiders, brown recluses like dark, warm places. You’re most likely to find a spider in one of the following locations:

  • Cracks and corners (in cabinets, drawers, closets, furniture, etc.)
  • Curtains
  • Seldom-used clothing
  • Inside furniture
  • Inside bedding

You’ll occasionally find a spider in a bathtub, because spiders get trapped inside the smooth, slick basin. Be careful as you step into the shower, unfold a piece of clothing you haven’t worn in a while, or turn down your bed.

You’ll also find brown recluse spiders outside in your garden, especially in dark places like woodpiles or garden sheds. Wear gloves as you prepare your garden for spring planting, just in case.

Are Brown Recluse Spiders Aggressive?

If you spot a brown recluse spider, are you in danger? The answer is no, not usually. Brown recluse spiders are quite passive, and they only bite if provoked or startled. If you spot a brown recluse in your home, just stay away and call the exterminator. Unless a brown recluse feels threatened, it will leave you alone.

Brown recluse spiders are incredibly resilient, and can survive for months without food. They live for between one and two years, and they are very self-sufficient. For this reason, any time you spot a brown recluse in your home, it’s time to call a professional. Otherwise, you stand the chance of entertaining that spider for a long while.

What Do I Do If I Get Bit?

If you stumble across a brown recluse and happen to be bit, call the doctor immediately. Chances are that you won’t notice the bite at first, as most brown recluse bites do not sting (in fact, about half of all brown recluse bites have no symptoms at all, other than a slight, reddish, swollen bump on the skin).

That said, brown recluse bites are venomous, and some can be quite painful or lead to severe medical consequences. It’s a good idea to speak with a doctor as soon as you notice the bite, and, if possible, to bring the spider with you for identification.

When you spot a brown recluse in your home, contact Chem-Wise immediately. Chances are that there’s more than one in your home, and you want to keep your family safe. The trained Chem-Wise service technician can quickly ensure that your home is protected from brown recluse spiders and other pests.