Brown Recluse Spiders

What do brown recluse spiders look like?

  • Brown recluse spiders are not native to Florida, but have been introduced and are light-brown or flesh colored to dark brown with a noticeable violin-shaped dark mark that begins right behind the eyes.
  • They are often called “fiddle backs, violin spiders or reaper spiders.”
  • Their bodies are 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length; legs outstretched at ¾ to 1 inch.
  • They have six eyes (arranged in a semicircle on the top front of the first body segment).

What are the habits of brown recluse spiders? 

  • Brown recluse spiders are typically found outdoors found under rocks, barns and sheds.
  • When hunting, recluse spiders typically retreat to their nests when they are disturbed.
  • Females produce from one to five egg sacs, each containing 40 to 50 eggs and development (time from egg to adult) is nearly one year—approximately 336 days.
  • The life span of females averages nearly two years.
  • They construct an irregular, nondescript web (in secluded locations). 

What kind of damage is caused by brown recluse spiders? 

  • Brown recluse spiders inflict a painful bite that may develop into an ugly, slow-healing ulcer and typically only bite when provoked, stepped on, accidentally rolled on, etc…
  • Initially, bite sites may be unnoticeable until 2-12 hours when symptoms begin including burning, itching, the area may become red and a small white blister may appear.  1-3 days later, the site may deteriorate become increasingly painful, blueish or purple and ulcerating skin may ensue (and worsen over weeks) creating an open flesh wound.  If symptoms persist, affected persons should consult with a physician. 

What should I look for in looking for brown recluse spiders? 

  • Dark protected areas that attract insect prey—be careful where you place your hands or feet (e.g., stepping into an old pair of shoes that have been stored for long periods of time, taking a pair of gardening gloves off the garage shelf after 3 months, etc…).
  • If the spider is visible and easily killed, save for entomological identification.  

How to Control and Kill Brown Recluse Spiders:

  • Reduce clutter and debris inside structures and scrap lumber, woodpiles, rocks and other protective outdoor materials should be removed.
  • Inspect shoes or gloves stored in garages, sheds, etc… before placing on hands/feet.
  • A vacuum cleaner should be used to remove spiders, webs, and egg sacs and the bag immediately sealed and discarded.
  • Outdoor lighting that attracts insects to the structure should be changed.

If you believe you have brown recluse spiders in or around your home, contact our team of entomologist-trained experts to confirm identification and eliminate these dangerous spiders in your north-Florida home.