How to Identify the Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider is very poisonous and it likes to live in a lot of places, including closets, boxes, shoes, and even clothes. Learn how to identify the brown recluse spider so you can prevent it from biting you or your loved ones.

Oftentimes, bites from brown recluse spiders (sometimes shortened to BRS) are often wrongly diagnosed. In the same way, other spider bites are also misdiagnosed as brown recluse spider bites. Here is some information that can help you identify a brown recluse spider and its bite so you can immediately give the proper spider bite treatment.

Markings and Color

Brown Recluse SpiderThe adult brown recluse spider is easily identified because of a dark, brown, violin-shape on its back. The shape looks like an inverted violin with its neck pointing towards the spider’s rounded abdomen. However, even this identifying mark is not a common marking because young brown recluse spiders do not have it.

Generally, the brown recluse spider is similarly colored light tan to dark brown.


The body of an adult brown recluse spider measures about 3/8 inches in length and 3/16 in width. Its legs are long and slim. Altogether, the size of an adult brown recluse spider is about 1 to 2 ½ inches. A young brown recluse spider is very much like the adult, except the color is lighter.

Number of Eyes

Spiders mostly have eight eyes, but the brown recluse spider has six eyes arranged in a semi-circle located on the forefront of the body.

The male and female brown recluse spiders are very poisonous. They are commonly found in the central Midwestern states south of the Mexican Gulf.


The adult brown recluse spider has a life span of one to two years. It can survive without water and food for 6 months. It lays eggs during the months of May, June and July.

One adult female spider can lay 50 eggs in an off-white silken sack; the diameter of a brown recluse spider egg is about 2/3 inch. More than one egg sack can be deposited by a female brown recluse spider in that three-month laying period. The spiderlings can reach adult stage within a year depending on the weather condition and food supply.


A loose, irregular web is spider’s daytime home. It is made of sticky off-white to gray thread. The scientific name of the brown recluse spider is Loxosceles reclusa and the term “reclusa” refers to its habitat. It is a solitary insect that prefers to be alone in dark corners and crevices. The web serves as the spider’s retreat during the day so you will find it in undisturbed corners. At night, the brown recluse spider comes out to hunt for food; it is a scavenger and will often eat dead insects.

Recluse spiders are very flexible, too. They can live indoors or outdoors although they always prefer the dark corners or areas. Indoor, they start to make webs in attics, basements, cellars and closets, including storage boxes, shoes, clothes and folded linens, even under and behind furniture. Outdoor, the perfect place for the brown recluse spider are the garages, barns, storage sheds. Wood and stone piles are also perfect places for the brown recluse spiders.

Spiders such as the recluse spider are not aggressive. Typically, they only bite when crushed or disturbed. Some spider bite victims have been bitten in bed when they accidentally rolled over the spider. Others may have disturbed the spider’s home when they were cleaning storage sheds or dark areas under the sink or furniture. While some have been bitten after they put on seldomly-used clothes or shoes that the brown recluse spider had been inhabiting.

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