Brown Recluse Spider
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They have long legs and a body length that ranges from 1/4 – 3/4 inches. The color varies from golden brown to dark brown. The most identifiable characteristic is the dark violin-shaped mark that begins right behind the eyes. Unlike most spiders with eight eyes, the brown recluse has only six eyes. The eyes are arranged in pairs; one pair in front and a pair on each side can be readily seen under low magnification.
There is no evidence to suggest that the Brown Recluse spiders are established in Utah at this time. It is typically found in the midwestern and southern United States. Brown Recluse spiders generally occupy dark, undisturbed sites and are indoors and outdoors. In favorable habitats, their populations are often dense. They thrive in human-altered environments. Indoors can be found in attics, basements, crawl spaces, cellars, closets, and ductwork or registers. They may seek shelter in storage boxes, shoes, clothing, folded linens, and behind furniture. They also may be found in outbuildings such as barns, storage sheds, and garages. Outdoors, brown recluse spiders may be found underneath logs, loose stones in rock piles, and stacks of lumber.
The brown recluse spider mainly feeds on insects. They can survive prolonged periods (about six months) without food or water.
Life Cycle & Reproduction
The female Brown Recluse will lay eggs primarily from May through July. The female lays about 50 eggs encased in an off-white silken sac about 2/3-inch diameter. Each female may produce several egg sacs over several months. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sac in about a month. Their development is slow and is influenced by weather conditions and food availability. It takes an average of one year to reach the adult stage from the time of egg deposit. Adult brown recluse spiders often live one to two years.
Brown Recluse Spider Threat
The bite of the brown recluse spider can result in a painful, deep wound that can take a long time to heal. Death from a brown recluse spider is infrequent, but bites are most dangerous to young children, the elderly, and those in poor physical condition. When there is a severe reaction to the bite, the site can erupt into a “volcano lesion” (a hole in the flesh due to damaged, gangrenous tissue). The open wound may range from the size of an adult’s thumbnail to the span of a hand. The dead tissue gradually sloughs away, exposing underlying tissues. The sunken, ulcerating sore may heal slowly up to 6 to 8 weeks.
Complete recovery may take several months, and scarring may remain. It is difficult for a physician to accurately diagnose a “brown recluse bite” based on wound characteristics. It’s necessary to have the spider for identification. The brown recluse spider is not usually aggressive and generally bites when crushed, handled, or disturbed. Some people have been bitten in bed after inadvertently rolling over onto the spider. Others have been bitten after accidentally disturbing the spider when cleaning storage areas. Some bites occur when people wear seldom used clothing or shoes inhabited by a Brown Recluse. Click here to learn about Spider Removal.