Brown Recluse Spiders

The brown recluse spider is a somewhat dangerous pest that is pretty common all over Middle Tennessee.  They are not aggressive, and usually only bite people when they’re touched or otherwise disturbed.  However, it is possible for the brown recluse bite to be painful and to cause long-lasting problems for the person bitten.  Because of this, it’s important to pay close attention to this spider in your home.

Also named the “fiddleback spider” or “violin spider,” the brown recluse is distinct looking because of the fiddle shape on its head and neck.  Sometimes the fiddle is faint, but if you see one, it looks like the fiddle neck is pointing away from the spider’s head towards its abdomen (stomach).

The brown recluse is light brown and has long, thin legs.  Adult spiders have a leg span about the size of a quarter.  They’re covered with fine hair, but they’re so small you can’t usually see the hair unless you’re too close!  Something else you could see on a brown recluse if you were using a microscope – they only have six eyes instead of the usual spider’s eight eyes.

Brown recluse spiders spin a loose, irregular off-white or gray web – and it’s very sticky!  They are named “recluse” for a reason – they really prefer to stay undisturbed in corners and boxes and other quiet places.  They are nocturnal and roam around mostly at night, looking for insect prey.

However, the brown recluse is mostly a scavenger and would rather find and eat already dead insects.  The adult brown recluse can live for six months without food or water!


Light brown, with a darker brown fiddle shape on their backs.  They are about 3/8 inch long and 3/16 inch wide.



Brown recluses love attics, basements, crawl spaces, closets, registers and ductwork inside houses.  They will also set up their webs in storage boxes, unused shoes, clothing, folded linens, and behind furniture.  Outdoors, they like being in barns, storage sheds, garages, under logs, rock piles and lumber.


The brown recluse spider bite needs immediate attention.  A person may feel the pain of the actual bite, but not always. There can sometimes be a “target” area around the bite with a red, painful, itchy blister. The reaction that people have to this spider’s bite varies quite a bit –some people are unaffected, while others need medical care.  It all depends on the amount of venom injected at the bite, how long the person goes without seeking medical care, and whether or not that person is sensitive to the venom.  In almost every case of a brown recluse spider bite, the person heals easily without scarring.  However, always call your doctor, ER, or poison control center if you think you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse.  Also, if it’s possible to save the spider, do so in a small glass jar (even if you killed it and it’s a mangled mess).  Then if you need to see a doctor, you can take it with you to verify the kind of spider it is.  This spider’s bite is most dangerous to young children, the elderly and infirm.

If you think you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse, keep calm!  Apply ice to the bite site and keep it there.  Call your doctor, ER, or poison control center to get further advice or help.


Prevent bites 
Shake out little used clothing and shoes before putting them on.  Inspect bedding and towels before use.  Wear gloves when handling firewood and other outdoor objects.  Be very careful when handling stored cardboard boxes – these spiders really like the small space under the folded cardboard flaps.

Keep things clean
Cleaning up your clutter and trash in basements and garages will go a long way towards making brown recluse spiders feel unwelcome in your house.  Keep wood piles away from your house.  Clean up dead insects on floors and windowsills.

Call U.S. Pest! 
These are spiders you really don’t want to mess with.  It is important to control any brown recluse spider populations in your home or garage immediately, before it becomes a really big problem.  Call U.S. Pest today for a Free Inspection.

Keep them out
Make sure the screens on your doors and windows are tight-fitting.  Seal or caulk cracks and crevices around doors and windows.  Instead of normal white lights outside, put in yellow or sodium vapor light bulbs; these attract fewer of the insects that brown recluse spiders like to eat.  Also, carefully tape stored cardboard boxes shut.

Non-chemical control
You can buy inexpensive sticky traps or glueboards to trap these spiders – and they work!  Dust and vacuum thoroughly to remove the spiders, their webs, and their egg sacs.  Immediately place the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag, put it in the trash, and take it out of the house.

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