The brown recluse is a fairly well-known spider because its bite can have serious effects on humans. The brown recluse is among only three spiders known to be dangerous to people; the other two being the black widow and hobo spiders. The venom of a brown recluse can result in large, open sores on a victim’s skin that can take a long time to fully heal.
Generally speaking, the brown recluse inhabits the central and southeastern parts of the United States. Its presence extends roughly from central Iowa to southern Ohio, down to central Georgia, westward through the majority of Texas and back up to mid-Iowa.
The brown recluse ranges from golden to tan to brown in color. A well-known fact about the brown recluse is that it bears a unique marking on its dorsal side (back) that is in the shape of a fiddle or violin. This distinctive mark is darker than the rest of the spider and can help distinguish the brown recluse from another species.
An adult brown recluse’s body is about ¼” to 0.5″ long. Including its legs, it is about an inch in diameter, sometimes larger. A female brown recluse is usually a little bit bigger than a male. Young brown recluse spiders look quite a bit like the adults except that they are lighter in color and, of course, smaller.
The brown recluse can be found in lower-traffic areas of a home, such as the basement or attic, and likes to hide in places like storage boxes, linens, and items that are seldom-used. Outdoors, they live in woodpiles, under branches, bark, or other undisturbed and dark areas.
Although the brown recluse can inflict serious wounds on a human, the fact that it is not actually an aggressive spider may surprise many. The brown recluse will only bite if it is disturbed or provoked in some way. This can include getting pinned or crushed, such as a person rolling over on it in bed.
If bitten, a person may observe a whitish blister at the bite location, which can become swollen. He or she may experience other symptoms such as fever, joint pain, or nausea. It is possible for a bite to develop into open lesions on the victim’s skin that sometimes become quite large and can take many weeks to heal. In fact, these wounds can sometimes even expose bone or underlying tissue. It is critical to seek medical attention if a person has been bitten.