How to Identify a Brown Recluse Spider

How to Identify a Brown Recluse Spider

There are an estimated 4,000 spider species in North America, and while many of them aren’t harmful to humans, some of them—like the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa), also known as the violin spider—can be potentially dangerous. 

Out in the wild, these spiders tend to live under rocks, logs, woodpiles, and debris. But they’re also well adapted to live indoors alongside humans, often making their way into homes where they retreat into dark, secluded spots like attics and basements. 

A brown recluse spider infestation is a serious problem. These spiders are dangerous because of their venom, which in some cases can lead to serious medical conditions. Although the species isn’t particularly aggressive, knowing how to identify it in your home can help you protect you and your loved ones from a potential bite and sound the alarm for pest control. In this guide, you’ll learn the nuts and bolts of identifying brown recluse spiders and managing infestations in your home. 

What are Brown Recluse Spiders (Loxosceles reclusa)?

Like other spiders, brown recluse spiders are arachnids. Arachnids are close relatives of ticks and scorpions. Brown recluse spiders have eight legs with retractable claws on each foot and six eyes, grouped in pairs of two. Unlike most spiders, they don’t spin elaborate webs to trap insects; instead, they hunt down their prey on foot. They feed on many of the insects we consider pests, such as mosquitoes, crickets, cockroaches, and flies.

These spiders are found throughout the south-central and midwestern United States, and it’s uncommon to see these brown recluse spiders outside of their native range. Homeowners sometimes, however, accidentally transport them to new neighborhoods or regions via furnishings or boxes during a move. 

Brown recluse spiders have a lifespan of about two to four years. True to their name, people rarely see them. In the daytime, they prefer to hide in dark, quiet corners away from humans and predators. At night, they venture out from their nest to look for prey, occasionally wandering into shoes, clothing, or bedding where they may inadvertently bite someone who rolls over on them or traps them.

How to Identify Brown Recluse Spiders

One of the most obvious hallmarks of a brown recluse is the violin-shaped mark on its back. This marking, where the base of the violin points towards the spider’s head, is usually dark in color. Brown recluse spiders range from tan to dark brown or gray in color and have long, slender legs. With their legs fully stretched out, they are about the size of a quarter. 

Most spiders have eight eyes, so remember to look for three groups of two eyes on this spider. You can also identify brown recluse spiders based on their behavior. These spiders tend to dwell in areas that are rarely disturbed, including cluttered closets, garages, crawl spaces, barns, sheds, and attics. They can also live behind walls, in the voids within concrete block foundations, and in or under the crevices behind beds and furniture. Homeowners most often spot brown recluse spiders during the spring. 

What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider

Like other spiders, the brown recluse is not naturally aggressive. It does not actively hunt humans but will bite people who threaten them. Brown recluse spider bites aren’t usually painful at first. In fact, it can take as long as eight hours to realize a brown recluse has bitten you. By that time, the bite area can become swollen and red. 

Always seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider. While most bites heal within a few weeks and don’t have any serious complications, a bite from the brown recluse spider can lead to necrosis (tissue death) in some victims. Children, elderly people, and people with pre-existing conditions or poor health are most likely to experience a severe reaction. This reaction can manifest as fever, chills, dizziness, rash, or vomiting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend seeking medical attention in the event of a brown recluse spider bite. 

How Do Brown Recluses Get in the House?

If you’re seeing brown recluse spiders in your home, you’re probably wondering how they got there in the first place. Here are a few of the ways that brown recluse spiders make their way into your home.


Brown recluse spiders are attracted to clutter both inside and outside because it offers them an ideal hiding place. To dissuade them from nesting indoors, keep your attic, basement, closet, or other secluded areas of your home organized, clean, and clutter-free. Remove debris outside, such as undisturbed wood piles and neglected construction materials. Keep in mind that brown recluse spiders can migrate indoors via firewood or building materials.


Insects, such as mosquitoes, crickets, cockroaches, and flies, are the primary food source for brown recluse spiders. If you’re dealing with an insect problem, a spider problem may not be too far off. The more bugs you are harboring in your home, the more likely brown recluses will move to prey on them. Make a plan to reduce insects and bugs in your home by using effective pest control methods. If you’re looking for tips on how to control insects and bugs, don’t hesitate to give Joshua’s Pest Control a call.  

How to Get Rid of Brown Recluses

If you’ve come across one brown recluse spider in your home, chances are there are more of them hiding somewhere. If you are seeing large numbers of brown recluse spiders scuttering around your home, call a pest control expert. Trying to remove large infestations by yourself can be dangerous to your health. That being said, here are some preliminary pest control methods, both reactive and preventative, that you can try to eliminate small populations of brown recluse spiders in your home. 

Set a Glue Trap

Glue traps won’t eliminate all the brown recluse spiders in your home. They are, however, a useful tool for identifying where the spiders are hiding and surveying how many might be living in your home. Because glue traps are commonly used to catch mice and cockroaches, you can easily find them at your hardware local store. Use thin, flat glue traps that are easy for brown recluse spiders to crawl onto. Place these traps strategically in areas where you believe brown recluse spiders are hiding. Remember, if you’re sorting through boxes or clutter, wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid bites.

Seal Cracks

Spiders are relatively small animals, which is why it’s important to seal up any cracks or gaps around window frames or doorways that they can travel through to enter your home. You can do this yourself using caulk, which you can purchase from your local home improvement store. Also consider installing tight-fitting window screens, weather stripping, and door sweeps to keep brown recluse spiders and other pests out as well.

Clean Regularly

Keeping your home’s floors, carpets, crawl spaces, and other surfaces and crevices clean can help you both prevent and remove spiders. Vacuum, dust, and sweep these spaces regularly. Afterward, be sure to empty your vacuum bags and dustpans outdoors to prevent any trapped spiders from crawling out of the trash inside the house.

Address Additional Insect Problems 

Regular pest control is an important part of brown recluse spider prevention. By preventing other insects from infesting your home, you’re cutting off the food source of the spiders that seek them out. Prevent insects by keeping your home clean, reducing clutter, and removing sources of stagnant water like mop buckets or oversaturated plant pots. If your insect problem is severe, call a professional for help.

Dealing with Brown Recluse Spiders at Home? Call Joshua’s Pest Control

If you’re spotting these venomous spiders in your home, don’t hesitate to call a professional. A severe infestation can be dangerous to your health. At Joshua’s Pest Control, our skilled field technicians will work to help you make brown recluse spider infestations in your home a problem of the past.

Our team has been helping families get rid of pests for years. We create a personalized, comprehensive solution to control your spider problem and deal with infestations promptly so you can get your home back to normal.

We can prevent the problem from becoming worse and provide you with the tools you need to prevent future infestations. Our experts will inspect your house for signs of spider activity, identify the invading species, and recommend the best treatment plan for you and your family. Don’t put off brown recluse spider removal.

Contact Joshua’s Pest Control today for your free quote.