What Does a Brown Recluse Look Like? Pictures and More

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Brown recluse spiders are found only in certain areas of the country. If they’re in your area, it’s important to know what they look like. They rarely bite humans, but when they do, their venom can cause serious injuries.

On average, these spiders are a quarter the size, including their legs. They are tan to dark brown in color and have a few distinct characteristics. These include six eyes (most spiders have eight) and a violin or lute shaped sign.

Unfortunately, these descriptions don’t always fit and you need an expert to correctly identify a brown recluse spider. A professional examination can rule out other species that look like a brown recluse but are not as dangerous.

This article discusses why brown recluse spiders are dangerous and how to identify them.

Why are brown recluse spiders dangerous?

Although bites from a brown recluse are rare, they can be dangerous. These spiders are not aggressive. However, they can bite if you accidentally roll over or if it is hiding in clothing.

Furthermore, a bite can be mistaken for something small, like a red bump or small wound. Nothing clearly identifies the bite of a brown-skinned recluse. There is no blood or culture test that can detect brown spider recluse venom when a bite is suspected.

The brown recluse’s venom can cause a mild reaction or a severe reaction. Serious reactions are more common in people with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and children.

If you think you have been bitten by a brown recluse bedbug, apply ice to the affected area, elevate it, and seek immediate medical attention.

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Venom from the brown recluse can cause severe symptoms, especially in the elderly, children or people with weakened immune systems. If you think you may have been bitten by a brown recluse, seek medical help immediately.

Symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite

Brown recluse bites are usually painless and symptoms may not appear for several hours. At that point, the area may become red, swollen, and tender. Most bites remain localized and heal within a few weeks without serious complications or medical treatment.

In more severe cases, wounds or lesions may form. It may have a dry, sunken blue patch with uneven edges, a pale center, and a red exterior. As the venom continues to destroy tissue, the bite wound can expand up to several inches over a period of days or weeks. It can eventually become a necrotic ulcer, with dead tissue and dark scarring.

Rarely, the bite produces a systemic (all over body) reaction with fever, chills, dizziness, rash or vomiting.


Most brown recluse bites heal in a few weeks. Some can be severe and destroy skin tissue, causing serious injury. In rare cases, it can cause fever, rash, dizziness, and vomiting.

How to rule the Brown recluse

Brown recluse spiders like dark, dingy places where they can hide under everything. In their habitat, there can be serious infestations. Therefore, if there is one spider, there are most likely dozens or even hundreds of them. However, even in homes with multiple outbreaks, being bitten is unusual.

However, if you have been bitten by a spider that you think might be a brown recluse, the best thing to do is to try to rule that possibility out by following these steps.

Determine if they live in your area

The brown recluse spider lives in a well-defined area in the south-central part of the United States. They are called “hermits” because they are difficult to find even in the regions where they reside.

The scientific name of the brown recluse is Loxosceles reclusa. They live in the red area of ​​the map below.

Other colored areas on the map are where other areas are Loxosceles species (such as the recluse Texans, desert hermits, etc.). They are related to the brown-skinned recluse and all have similar venom. Indeed, some others Loxesceles Venomous species are more dangerous than reclusive species.

If the spider is found outside the known habitat of a brown recluse, it is almost certainly not this type of spider. If it is out of other regions, it is not even a related species.

Rick Vetter

Look at its legs

When identifying a spider, you can tell if it is a brown recluse spider from its anatomy.

Loxosceles actually means “slanted legs”. If you look at a brown recluse from the side, you can see how the body sits low and the legs point up to a point. It is that angular shape and slanted legs that give the brown recluse its scientific name.

Photo Joao Paulo Burini / Getty

Two distinguishing features of brown recluse legs include:

  • No spines: Unlike many other spiders, Loxosceles It has no spikes or spikes on its legs. They are smooth.
  • Solid color: Some spiders have multicolored legs, but Loxosceles sturdy legs, no stripes and no patterns.

If a spider doesn’t have this type of leg, it’s definitely not a brown recluse. If so, you’ll want to consider some other characteristics.

Test three groups of two eyes

The next way to identify a brown recluse spider is to look at the spider’s eyes.

Pablo Dolsan / Getty Images

Brown recluse spiders have six eyes. The eyes are paired in pairs called eyes (groups of two) and are arranged on the front and sides of the spider’s head. Other spiders may have eight eyes or six eyes arranged in triplets (groups of three).

You can’t tell if it’s a brown recluse by the eyes alone. However, if the eyes aren’t the right type, it’s definitely Not a brown recluse.


Brown recluse spiders have high slanting legs with a low body. They have six eyes, arranged in three groups of two each.

Check out its body

There are two more characteristics needed for this Loxosceles:

Photo Joao Paulo Burini / Getty
  • The body (without legs) must be no more than 3/8 inch long. Including the legs, the average brown recluse is about a quarter the size.
  • The belly (large round part on the back) should be slightly translucent with fine, solid-colored hairs.

Find Fiddle Marking

One feature most often noted in descriptions of brown-skinned recluse is the violin-shaped mark on his back.

Not all brown-skinned recluses carry the hallmarks of a classical violin. Even if it’s there, you may not be able to see it clearly. Furthermore, there are spiders that also have violin markings on their backs that are not brown recluses.

The traces of classical violin are not obvious on all slender species like this desert recluse, but the venom is just as bad.

Marshal Hedin


A brown recluse is about a quarter the size when you include its body and legs. It usually has a violin-shaped mark on its back, but they can also be found on other spiders.

How to avoid infection

Brown recluse spiders are difficult to get rid of, largely because they tend to hide in dark areas. Gaps, corners and crevices in walls, especially behind storage and clutter areas, are ideal hiding places.

To prevent brown recluse spiders from entering, seal off potential areas of your home. Strategies include:

  • Use weatherproofing around windows and window frames
  • Fill cracks in the floorboards with wood plastic filler or wood glue
  • Eliminate clutter


Although brown recluse bites are rare, they can be dangerous. Brown recluse spiders are found in the south-central United States. They can be identified by their slanted legs, six eyes, and a violin-shaped mark on their back.

Although most bites heal without complications, some people can experience serious reactions, including severe wounds, fever, dizziness, rash, or vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention if you think you have been bitten by a brown recluse bedbug.

frequently asked Questions

  • How do you get rid of brown recluse spiders?

    Glue traps can catch spiders, but it’s best to call a professional exterminator, who can use an appropriate insecticide, which will be more effective.

  • How do you treat a brown recluse bite?

    Antihistamines, colchicine, dapsone, and corticosteroids are medications used to relieve symptoms. Antivenom, including antibodies that neutralize venom, can prevent large sores on the skin if given within hours of being bitten.

  • What should you do if you find a brown recluse in your home?

    Call an exterminator. If you think you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, apply ice, elevate the affected area, and seek immediate medical attention. Try to catch the spider so that an expert can determine if it is really a recluse spider or another type of spider.

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