Brown Recluse Facts & Information

Everything you need to know about brown recluse spiders

Brown recluse spiders are one of two poisonous spiders in our area. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘fiddleback’ or ‘violin’ spider due to the identifiable violin marking on their back. Though variable in size, adult brown recluse spiders with legs extended are about the size of a U.S. quarter. Coloration ranges from tan to dark brown, and the abdomen and legs are uniformly colored with no stripes, bands, or mottling. The legs are long and thin and lack conspicuous spines. Brown recluse spiders were given their name due to their reclusive nature and preference to retreat to dark and secluded areas especially during daylight hours. They will hunt at night in search for dead or alive insect prey. They eat small insects and other spiders. As a running spider (not a spider that uses webs to catch prey), a recluse chases down prey like a wolf. The purpose of their venom is to subdue their prey.

Not the spider you have?

How Did I Get Brown Recluse Spiders

If you have the places they like to hide, then you may have brown recluse spiders. Likely hiding places include crevices, corners, and wall-floor junctures, especially behind clutter and stored items. Reducing clutter means fewer places for the spiders to hide and can enhance effectiveness of treatments. When sorting through boxes or materials, wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid being bitten. Brown recluse spiders also live above suspended ceilings, behind baseboards and woodwork, and within ducts and registers. You may also get brown recluse spiders if you have their food source – small insects and other spiders.

Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live

Brown recluse live outdoors under logs, woodpiles, debris, and rocks, but they can live virtually anywhere indoors. Brown recluse spiders will live happily in attics and are resilient enough to survive the winter – even in unheated basements and garages. Brown recluse spiders may also live behind walls and inhabit the voids within concrete block foundations. In infested garages, attics, basements, and crawl spaces, the spiders, brown recluse spider egg sacs, and distinctive shed skins are often found along joists, sills, and rafters, as well as under rolled insulation. In living areas, they sometimes inhabit crevices behind and beneath beds and furniture, closets, clothing, shoes, and stored items.

Problems Caused by Brown Recluse Spiders

While brown recluse spiders are not aggressive, they are one of two poisonous spiders in our area. They most commonly bite in response to body pressure when they are inadvertently trapped against bare skin. Bites are commonly misdiagnosed. In rare circumstances a necrotic-like sore could result. The fangs of brown recluse are very small and will not allow them to bite through clothing. The initial bite is usually painless. Oftentimes the victim is unaware until 3 to 8 hours later when the bite site may become red, swollen, and tender. The majority of brown recluse spider bites remain localized, healing within 3 weeks without serious complication or medical intervention. Unfortunately, any spider bite is difficult to diagnose – even by a physician. The major issues come from being allergic to the venom or if the bite gets infected. If you know you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider you should apply ice, elevate the affected area, and seek medical attention immediately.

How Do I Prevent Brown Recluse Spiders

Brown recluse spiders are difficult to eradicate, largely because of their secretive habits. Virtually any dark, undisturbed area can serve as harborage, and many such places occur within buildings. Because of this (and the potential health threat), treatment is best performed by professionals. Calling in a brown recluse spider exterminator is your best bet. It will help if you work to remove other insects and spiders since that’s what brown recluse spiders eat. If they can’t find food in your home, they will look elsewhere for it.


We’re passionate about controlling brown recluse spiders because we live and work here – it’s our neighborhood, too. We’ve been keeping homes and businesses in Kentucky, Indiana, and portions of Ohio safe from pests since 1972. OPC Pest Services has the experience you can trust.
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“I have been a long time customer of OPC and extremely arachnophobic. They have taken care of me for nearly 3 decades at 3 different homes during that time. I’m a customer for life!”

Kathy L.
Louisville, KY