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The Brown Recluse Or Violin Spider

Arachnophobia And The Brown Recluse

Ah spiders! Even the baddest of men will sometimes shriek like small girls when surprised by one, and in the cases when anyone is surprised to find a brown recluse spider nearby, the shrieking is justified, but only when either a swift stroke of a blunt object eradicating the spider is used in conjunction with the shriek.

What is it about spiders that terrifies us so? I'm going to guess that it has to do with how utterly alien their appearance is. That and the fact spiders basically trap and then poison and wrap their prey for a meal later on, of course. Such spider stereotypes! The brown recluse wraps no poisoned prey in a web of misery and woe to await a slow torturous death while being eaten alive! No, the brown recluse spider chases down its prey like an athlete, where are the fans?

We do have a term for humankind's fear of spiders, and the term is arachnophobia, Often times our arachnophobia is unjustified, as the spider we've seen is rather harmless, but do take a good long look at the photo of the brown recluse spider below, and be certain that you know there are other times - times when a fear of spiders is a very healthy fear, and well justifiable.

The brown recluse spider or violin spider, Loxosceles reclusa

Do you see the violin shape?

Do you see the violin shape?

Brown Recluse Bite Tissue Necrosis

Trust me, I didn't use the worst photo out there.  It gets even uglier than this.

Trust me, I didn't use the worst photo out there. It gets even uglier than this.

Brown Recluse Bites - Worst Case Scenarios

Sometimes, brown recluse spider bites cause very nasty reactions, such bites can result in hemolysis, thrombocytopenia, disseminated intravascular coagulation, organ damage, and even death.

While the majority of brown recluse spider bites do not result in any symptoms, cutaneous symptoms occur more frequently than systemic symptoms.When the term "cutaneous" is used, we're referring to external symptoms, flesh damage, and tissue damage.

In such instances, the bite forms a necrotizing ulcer that destroys soft tissue and may take months to heal, leaving deep scars. These bites usually become painful and itchy within 2 to 8 hours. Pain and other local effects worsen 12 to 36 hours after the bite, and the necrosis develops over the next few days. Over time, the wound may grow to as large as 25 cm (10 inches). The damaged tissue becomes gangrenous and eventually sloughs away.

The Brown Recluse Spider's Venomous Bite

Now here recently I somehow or another acquired three whelts, two on my most manly six pack stomach, and one on my back. I have no idea if those were spider bites, but they sure aren't mosquito bites, as they are far larger, and seem to have lasted far longer than any other sorts of bug bites. I'm not truly sure my three whelts are bug bites at all, but it was suggested to me they were likely spider bites, and possibly, brown recluse spider bites.

Now before we get into the scary stuff, I should just take one for the spider team, and ..well, tell the truth. Brown recluse spiders aren't aggressive, and they don't want to bite you at all, what they want is for you to stay away from them, but they might like to live inside your home. A few years back a home in the state of Kansas was found to have around TWO THOUSAND brown recluse spiders living inside, four human beings lived inside the house, and NONE of them were ever bitten by ANY of the spiders even ONCE.

When brown recluse spiders do bite someone, it is by and large when a person is pressing against a brown recluse they, obviously, did not see. Think, "putting on a pair of gardening gloves with a brown recluse spider inside." Incidentally, the bit of example I just now shared in quotations, is a typical one, as brown recluse spiders will make their webs and homes in clothing items that have been sitting unused for a while.

When a human is bitten by a brown recluse spider, the individual typically does not initially feel the spider's bite, which is truly a problem. Most often, the brown recluse bite is not serious, but then in some instances, it can be deadly serious. It would literally be fortunate were the brown recluse bite to be instantly painful, as is a stinging scorpion's sting, or a red wasp's sting, as then, the unsuspecting victim would realize there is a potentially very bad problem to be addressed, and to seek medical it is, what we do have is, well, sickness.

Brown recluse bite symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, rashes, and muscle and joint pain - and all these occur prior to any sort of tissue necrosis, so the good news is, if any, that one knows they are ill, and to definitely seek medical attention. Hopefully, a proper diagnosis of the illness will aid in preventing any tissue necrosis from occurring at all.

Regarding proper diagnosis, and not to be especially scare mongering here, just informative - the bad news is that, according to Wikipedia, as much as eighty percent of brown recluse bites are misdiagnosed.

Want some good news? A slight majority of brown recluse bites result in, well, nothing much at all.

Distribution Map - Brown Recluse Habitat In Green.


Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

Well, as you can see from the map, the brown recluse is right at home here with me in North East Texas, but don't you worry your pretty little self none, they travel to where you live too, and they do so in your clothes, your luggage, your automobiles, so forth, and so on. Oh they don't always set up lasting breeding populations so far from home, but don't put it past them, as they are evolving.

No, these spiders don't particularly wish to live inside your home, but they have no problems doing so, and they prefer cardboard boxes, as the cardboard reminds them of their natural homes in brush piles. Don't go sticking your hands behind the baseboards in your abode all willy nilly like, the brown recluse might be seeking to avoid you there, and you don't want to bother him or her.

The brown recluse spiders are called "recluses" for a reason - they don't really want to be around you, but they do come out of their homes at night to do some hunting, they figure you're best off in your bed where they can avoid you.

What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat?

Well, as I said, brown recluses like to hunt at night, but perhaps I should have said they like to hunt for food at night instead, as the term "hunt" generally indicates a search for live prey. Brown recluse spiders, you see, don't care if their meal was alive when they found it, or not. They're happy to clean up some dead bugs, or to kill them...either way is fine. Cockroaches are traditional table fare for the brown recluse spiders, and they figured you'd not mind sharing your cockroaches with them.

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Wait, dude, cockroaches are way fast!

That's right, cockroaches are very fast, and brown recluses can catch them and eat them without the use of a web, but rather, with their eight legs. That's right - these venomous spiders are very fast.

Maybe the brown recluses want to provide some benefit to mankind despite the rather fearful attitude they often detect just before they hear you scream, and see your wiggly backside heading fast and far away from them.

It is said the brown recluses are exceedingly resistant to our chemical warfare against the arachnid and insect world, they can eat insect corpses littered with poison, and do it with a rare sort of gusto....they're rock star spiders.

Brown Recluse Identification - Spider Eyes!


Brown Recluse Spider Identification - It's In The Eyes!

Now I know you're absolutely loving the looks of that brown recluse image just above, and just look at that sunny disposition our little eight legged fella has!

The brown recluse has some special things about it, and its eyes are certainly special. Rather than having eight eyes as most spiders do, the brown recluse spider only has six eyes, three sets of two eyes each.

You absolutely must look a brown recluse spider in the eyes to identify the spider as such, but you aren't going to do that, and who do I think I'm kidding anyway? Just look at the photo above, and pretend that you counted a spider's eyes just once in your life before screaming, and reaching for something to swat the thing with.

Glue Traps - Ideal For Catching Brown Recluse Spiders.

How Do I Get Rid Of Brown Recluse Spiders In My House?

Well, an old aphorism goes as follows,

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Feel free to call me names and such, but it is certainly the truth stated above. I'm no neat freak myself, but I don't have, I don't think, any brown recluse spiders in my home, but that is just the thing - they call them "recluses" for a good reason, and as I've already said:

1. they like to hunt and have spider parties at nighttime

2. They like to hang out in piles of clothes you leave unattended on the floor for far too long

3. They like cardboard boxes because ...cardboard is made from wood, and these spiders naturally live in piles of brush, and rotting trees, things like that.

So plain enough, if you have a dirty cluttered home with piles of cardboard trash and piles of clothes sitting around, well, you brought the spiders upon yourself. Brush piles just outside your home could also well have the brown recluse hangouts within, and if your home is nearby, no matter how neat it is on the inside, the spiders outside might decide to move in with you.

What to do? Clean your mess up, or hire someone to come do it for you should you be unable, heck, call in some old favors, or use guilt - it's all better than having brown recluse spider bites. If you've cracks around your windows and doors, you need to get that stuff sealed up or repaired, and then, if you do know you do have brown recluse spiders in your home, you lay out the glue traps in places like...underneath your sinks, your hot water heater closet, closets you seldom use, in the attic, and wherever there have been spider sightings within the home.

If you can't stand the glue traps, well, you better deal with poison then, and hope it doesn't have adverse effects. Terro 2300 Spider Killer Aerosol might be for you, but if you have a major infestation, you might want to call a licensed exterminator.

If you're not going to do any of that, you could try naming them, getting to know them, and feeding them cockroaches by hand - but I don't advise it. Brown recluse spiders typically live a year or two, it takes them a year to reach maturity, and they can go without food for a very very long time.

These are very tough spiders.

Thanks for reading.

Brown Recluse Spider Size - Visual Comparison, With Baby And Adult Spider.


© 2013 Wesman Todd Shaw


Debra Allen from West By God on May 22, 2014:

That map is way off !! We have them here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. There is a new one out to called the Black Recluse. We have those and the dreaded Black Widows. No getting rid of them because we live in the woods. I do not any spiders. Cannot trust them at all! The wolf spiders will jump at you but I have not seen any here. We do have some that jump at you but I do not know what kind they are.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 22, 2014:

What kind was it, Daisy? There's lots of venomous spiders....but where I live none of them are even a little bit aggressive. It's really BAD LUCK if you get bit here. Thank You!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on May 22, 2014:


Thanks for writing this very informative article. Thankfully, brown recluse spiders are not found in Southern California.

I was bitten by a spider last night. I didn't see the spider or feel the bite. All-of-a-sudden, I felt nauseous and dizzy. I couldn't keep my head up, so I took a nap for a few hours. When I woke up, I saw an ugly red infected welt on my leg. My heart rate has been elevated since yesterday. I've had problems with spider bites in the past. I've taken my allergy medications, but they're not helping. It's hasn't been fun.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 26, 2014:

No problems, salam. The very bad brown recluse tissue necrosis bites are rare...I'm not even sure I was bit by spiders; but it is likely that happened. Could have been wolf spider, or some other...who knows? :)

salam on January 25, 2014:

How is after 3 years the spider bites body. Any skin problems?

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on October 21, 2013:

Rules were never my thing. Never will be either.

In fact, the moderators spouting about rules while so callously disregarding the persons who produce the content that makes the money here are .... reason enough to be sick of them.

Then...the changed the way ebay works and is displayed on site, killing about half the money I was making.

They're just not smart, these people running the place, not smart at all. Hubpages got too big for its britches, as we say in the South :)

CHEERS Paula! It's good to be poor, that way, you have less responsibility for the worst things going on in this world.

Suzie from Carson City on October 21, 2013:

I see this is several months old and that I've already commented. Since there's no rule that says we may only comment once...(and I've never paid much attention to rules, my entire life).....I'm stopping by again.

Mostly, because my dear sweet man-friend, I find I'm very susceptible to the "power of suggestion." As I go about my busy day, I shall think of you....but don't let that impress you. My spider hatred & paranoia will be on high alert. I'll be itching and feeling creepy-crawly things all over......until I can somehow STOP thinking about these dastardly insects!!......I came upon a spider the other day that was the stuff terrifying night mares are made of! I screeched loud enough to break the sound barrier!! Thanks a heap, my love!!..........UP+++

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on October 12, 2013:

Black Widow bites are supposed to be VERY VERY painful!

Me..I'm an hvac tech, and black widows LOVE to build webs inside of condensers. I see them, and I just work right around them, I'll have hands and wrenches or whatever close to them often - they won't bite anyone unless you mess with them.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on October 12, 2013:

Sure am glad I found this hub! I just went back to the images I originally found and cannot find anything to substantiate the existence of a black recluse! The pictures that were incorrectly labeled, were interchangeable with those of the black widow. I guess I know what was in our store, now! The mighty black widow! Scorpions, on the other hand, I hav found two in my house!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on October 12, 2013:

Now the black widows don't look anything like the brown recluse, if there's a black recluse, then that's brand new info to me.

I don't know if I'm different, or what...but scorpions never cause any sort of swelling and discoloration for me, just a lot of pain, and luckily, the pain dies off pretty quickly. Of course me killing the scorpion tends to help me not notice the pain so much.

Thanks for reading! There's no real need to be afraid of spiders, just aware of them and their habits :)

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on October 12, 2013:

So very interesting! Thank you for all th information. I had 2 instances of incredible whelps on my feet. There was no sting felt so I can probably rule out scorpions. Both were a combination of itching, pain and extreme swelling. I never knew what they were and, fortunately, they didn't get worse! That being said, I do shake out my shoes before putting them on, now!!! A few days ago, we found a spider at work, we believe it was either a black widow or black recluse. We are, by the way in Arizona, so either one is possible. I found your article while trying to get more information. Thank you for this comprehensive hub!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 28, 2013:

Hey thanks very much T. Stranger and Arachnid....tomorrow I have to crawl underneath someone's trailer home to repair some things....I'm hoping I can keep from thinking about spiders...or snakes...especially snakes.

Yeah, I've heard about how good and extensive info from Texas A & M is! There's plenty of them fiddlebacks here in Kaufman too!

Hey T. Stranger - them Texas Rangers...REALLY have an ace going this year. That Japanese fella we got is going to likely strike out over 300 batters this year!

arachnid on May 25, 2013:

As part of our Safety Program at work I was required to pick a safety related topic each month and give a presentation. I was about out of material and the first Monday of the month wasn't far off. Two of my co-workers got bitten by brown recluse spiders in the same week which sadly gave me something to present. To make a short story.....well don't ever write Texas A&M University and request all the info they have..on any subject. I got case histories with 8 1/2 x 11's, everything you wanted to know and a bunch you didn't. It's been covered pretty well by a charitable Mr. Shaw. Some stuff I remember/misremember from the four hour dissertation....of the more than 10,000 species of spider in Norte Americana only two are poisonous. The recluse is clear at birth and doesn't get brown until middle age. The cambium layer (sp) of tree bark is his most favorite spot on earth and is why other than putting on clothes left on the floor overnite is why people get bit the mostest. Carrying wood. Austin Tx. is the epicenter for the beast in the Lone Star State. He is more easily identified by his shape and eye configuration than is namesake "Fiddleback''...yes I have been bitten.

T. Stranger on May 25, 2013:


I got the same whelps, Doc says only one cure...

A pennant. I'm tired of watching our aces get shelled.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on March 30, 2013:

justmesuzanne - thanks very much! I think a big part of the problem is these spiders come in various shades of brown, and so it's truly hard to know if the spider you are seeing is a brown recluse, or what.

justmesuzanne from Texas on March 27, 2013:

Great information! I didn't realize they were so big! I have seen quite a few of the babies and thought they were adults. Voted up and useful! :)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

Jmillis2006 - that's awful! Hope your mom is okay....and now I must check behind the headboard!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

AliciaC - thanks very much!

Maybe we can train predator drones spray for venomous spiders...or...maybe we can just encourage the venomous spiders to...disarm or something. :)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

petenali - Thanks very much! I'm pretty terrified of grizzlies and polar bears....and ...I'm just a wuss at cold weather.

I also read or saw somewhere that those moose or elk or something can be extremely dangerous when it is mating season :/

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

sgbrown - That's awful!

I don't know what to say except...I'm terribly sorry that happened to you...I had no idea the tissue necrosis could ...develop so fast...with nothing to be done for it. I'd not wish that spider's bite on anyone!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

Hey Sis - your story made me feel better about my fortunes in life!

Holy smoke! What bad luck that poor woman had!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

davidlivermore - Ah black widows!

You know, I don't know much of anything about them...except they really ...seem to not mind me so much.

They often will live inside of a residential air conditioning to the compressor...and so I see those things in that line of work...and they just, ignore me....hopefully your black widow house squatters will ignore you, but you ought not ignore them :/

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

Glimmer Twin Fan - thanks very much!

Yes...they need to be something we are all aware of...but sadly, most folks misidentify the spider they saw when they thought they were bitten...and doctors will very often misdiagnose a brown recluse bite if the patient doesn't know they suffer from a spider bite.

The initial symptoms of a brown recluse bite, when the bite is serious...are ..pretty common symptoms for colds, flues, things like that.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

christopheranton - thanks very very much!

Just goes to show how much somewhat important information every part of the globe has to be aware of...I wonder what terrors lie your way that were I there, I could be within a foot of unawares!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

Thanks very much, Paula...for taking time out for me - I don't think I'm worth it sometimes, but it's better still to see you.

If I can do anything for you from way down here, then just ask me, you're a special kind of person for sure.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

chrisnstar - Thanks for that AWESOME comment and information!

Of course I know the wolf spiders, but I didn't know the wolf spiders ate the brown recluses..but that pesticide information is something that ...folks need to know!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 24, 2013:

Billy! Good for Washington state! ...on the other hand, y'all have least I think you have grizzlies...and well, I'd rather get bit by the spider!

Jmillis2006 from North Carolina on February 22, 2013:

My mom has been bit by one of these spiders it was awful. Also I had a friend whose mother was bitten twice in a month time frame, they found the spiders behind the headboard of her bed with hundreds of babies, like a bad horror movie. Oh and that close up of spider eyes makes me shudder ICK.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 20, 2013:

This is a very interesting and useful hub, Wesman. It's fascinating to read about these spiders and to see their photos, but I'm so glad that they don't live in my area!

Pete from Ontario, Canada on February 20, 2013:

Wow, I'd never heard of this critter until now! Excellent hub - equally informative and downright scary. Gotta admit, I googled pictures and they are not pretty! Voted up for sure. Glad I live in Canada, almost too cold for humans to live let alone!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on February 20, 2013:

I was bitten by a brown recluse about 4 years ago and still have the scar to prove it. I was cleaning out our barn, where there were lots of cardboard boxes. I knew there were spiders in there, so I tried to be real careful, but still got bit. I was bitten right in the middle of my stomach. Apparently I had leaned the box against my tummy carrying it and my t-shirt was too short, it got me on the belly.

At first I thought it was a mosquito bite as it itched, but about an hour later, I saw a rash. A couple of hours after that, I felt like I had come down with the flu! I felt so bad, I went to bed and refused to go to the emergency room. The next moring, hubby took me to the doctor and he agreed, it was a brown recluse. The doc told me I should have come in right away.

I got a shot of anti-biotics in the belly every day for 3 days. By the second day, the skin around the bite started rotting, gross, huh! It was very painful. The third day I sat for a couple of hours with an IV in my arm with more anti-biotics. The doctor said it was going to rot, there was nothing he could do to stop it except surgery. It was outpatient surgery and they cut a place about 3 inches long and 1 1/2 wide out of my stomach. The pain after the surgery was nothing compared to the pain while the skin was rotting.

Moral or my story...if you do get bit by a spider and you have ANY symptoms listed in this hub, go to the doctor RIGHT AWAY! Not everyone will react the same to bite of this spider. Sorry this is so long, but everyone needs to know! Great hub, voted up and useful! Sharing socially too. :)

Angela Blair from Central Texas on February 20, 2013:

Of course I live in brown recluse territory -- although have never been bitten have killed a few. A rancher friend of mine (a lady) was first bitten on the finger by a copperhead snake while weeding flower beds and before she could recover from that was bitten by a brown recluse which actually caused her more problems than the snake bite. Need I say she moved back to town or is that a given? Great Hub, Wes -- always enjoy your "critter" getters! (And hope your "bites" heal up soon and are not from old "Brownie." Best/Sis

David Livermore from Bakersfield, California, United States on February 20, 2013:

I had an aunt bitten by one of these. She ended up in the hospital.

Spiders terrify me, but I have a black widow problem in my house unfortunately.

Claudia Porter on February 20, 2013:

This is a must read hub for everyone. A friend's mother was bitten by one and almost lost her foot and life. She was touch and go for a long time. These are scary spiders and people should be really wary. Great hub with great info.

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on February 20, 2013:

Brilliant article Wesman. Really well written and very informative. I love the dry wit you use in all your natural history articles.

I'm glad those spiders don't live anywhere near me though.

Suzie from Carson City on February 20, 2013:

Stopping by exclusively for you, wish you a Wonderful day on your 39th birthday, my dear friend. I couldn't possibly miss it.

I despise all spiders...this one in particular.....I screech like a siren when I see even the tiniest, harmless spider......

But YOU, I love. "Happy Birthday,"'re still a youngster.

I'll be back with you all, I promise......soon as things settle down a bit for me and I'm feeling better. Slowly polishing up my saddle....Love and Hugs....EFFER.

chrisnstar on February 19, 2013:

I live in brown recluse country. I've lived in two farmhouses I nicknamed brown recluse central. Several things I learned, and no one in my family ever was bitten. You shake your shoes, jeans and shirts before putting them on. Put glue traps everywhere and DON'T bomb your houe with pesticides. Usually along with recluses, there are wolf spiders. These are the good guys. They eat brown recluses! They seem to be smarter than recluses as they avoid the glue traps, but recluses seem to be attracted to those traps. We bombed our house once. We seemed to be spider free for awhile. Then the recluse population exploded. The recluses survived the bombing but the wolf spiders did not.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 19, 2013:

Nasty bastards. Never seen one here in Washington; having said that I'm sure one will crawl into the kitchen soon. LOL Good job my friend.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 19, 2013:

If your welts are burrowing into your skin that'll be a reason for concern. I hope not.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 19, 2013:


I'm still wondering if my three whelps might not be brown recluse bites...but I've had them more than a week, and they've not grown any...they just itch a bit.

Holy smoke...I'm so lucky in some ways.

I think folks just have to be cleanly to keep em' out...and also, to ...well, be lucky!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 19, 2013:

I have a friend who got bit on his backside by a brown recluse. He needed reconstructive surgery. It was literally a pain in his a$$. I never, ever want to be in the vicinity of this spider. Ever.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 19, 2013:

Thanks rasta1!!!

I kinda like it whenever I'm around a cute woman, and she sees a spider somewhere and screams a provides a great opportunity for me to go squish the thing, and be a hero for a minute, LOL!

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on February 19, 2013:

After reading this article, if I felt something crawling on me, I would have freaked out. An interesting narrative.

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