Size: ⅜” long and 3/16” wide
Brown recluse spiders are brown to gray, with a characteristic arrangement of six eyes in three groups of two (as opposed to the usual eight-eye arrangement of other types of spiders).
Brown recluse spiders can be found throughout the state of Florida as well as in other portions of the southern and midwestern United States. They prefer to inhabit dark, dingy areas like most other species of spiders here.
These spiders are tough, able to withstand cold winters and stifling summer temperatures – and to live for months without food or water. They are nocturnal, doing all of their hunting at night and retreating during the day to a dark, secluded area.
What does a brown recluse spider look like?
Brown recluse spiders can be tan to gray in color. They have long, tapering legs. The most distinguishing feature that this species has is a dark violin-shaped marking on the front part of the body along with a paired, semicircular arrangement of six separate eyes.
They are usually around the size of a US quarter when their legs are fully extended.
What is the habitat of a brown recluse in Florida?
These spiders prefer to hang out in places that are seldom distrubed, such as in junk piles, unused storage spaces like attics and crawl spaces, and firewood piles. They are most commonly seen in the spring, which is when they are mating and consequently less fearful of humans.
Brown recluse spiders span from Texas to Iowa to Kentucky to Florida. While people as far as southern California think they see brown recluse spiders, what they are actually seeing are other recluse spiders.
What are the behaviors of a brown recluse?
Typically, brown recluse spiders are shy and not aggressive. They hunt at night, seeking out live or dead insect prey. They do not build webs like other types of spiders, so if you see webs suspended along the ceiling in your home, it’s probably not the work of a brown recluse. It is likely a house spider or a cellar spider, two other common species that are found in Florida.
How dangerous is a brown recluse?
Brown recluse spiders often coexist with humans in homes without us ever knowing about it. However, when there are encounters, they can be serious. Males and older juvenile spiders have a tendency to wander, sometimes making their way into clothing, shoes, or even bedding at night, which is where they are most likely to bite humans.
They are not aggressive spiders but will bite when threatened. The initial bite is painless – you might not even be aware you were bitten – but can cause serious complications (such as necrotic lesions and vomiting) that require medical intervention.
What should I do if I’m bitten by a brown recluse?
Brown recluse bites can be extremely dangerous, causing large wounds and ulcers along with other reactions like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and confusion.
These reactions tend to be particularly pronounced in people of poor health, children, and the elderly. Apply ice to the bite and seek medical attention immediately.
Genus & species: Loxosceles reclusa
Brown Recluse Facts and Myths
1. Myth: Brown recluse spiders aren’t afraid of humans.
Brown recluse spiders, like most types of arachnids, are afraid of humans. This myth arises because the spiders are sometimes seen during daylight hours, crawling along walls and floors. This is not a human-seeking behavior, however – it is usually driven by hunger or overcrowding.
2. Fact: Brown recluse spiders sometimes play dead.
These spiders, which live for only one or two years, occasionally play dead when they are threatened.
3. Myth: You could have a huge infestation of brown recluse spiders in your house.
Although you might have a small group of brown recluse spiders hiding out in your basement, they aren’t likely to congregate. These spiders are antisocial and prefer to live alone – so large colonies are unlikely.
4. Fact: A single brown recluse spider can lay hundreds of eggs at once.
This is true. Females lay a number of egg sacs and just one egg sac can hold about 300 eggs at once. These eggs are laid in the spring or early summer, with the young taking almost a full year to develop fully into grown adults.
5. Fact: Brown recluse spiders can be beneficial.
Although most people want to get rid of brown recluse spiders as quickly as possible, these shy spiders actually pose a number of benefits. THe nocturnal hunters are great for controlling populations of flies, cockroaches, crickets, moths, and many other types of household pests.
Photo Credit: Rosa Pineda, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons