Brown Recluse Spiders

The Brown Recluse Spider, Loxosceles Recluse Gertsch, can inflict a very dangerous bite. The initial pain associated with the bite is not intense and is generally less troublesome than a bee sting. Within 8 to 12 hours the pain becomes quite intense, and over a period of a few days a large ulcerous sore forms. This sore heals very slowly and often leaves a large, ugly, and disfiguring scar.

The Brown Recluse is a soft-bodied and secretive species found in homes and other outbuildings. The adult body varies from 1/3 to 1/2 inch in length, with the arrangement of the legs producing a larger overall size of 1 inch in diameter or greater. The body is yellow to dark brown and has a rather distinctive darker brown violin-shaped mark on the top of the Cephalothorax.

The Brown Recluse Spider has been widely reported in the southern, western, and midwestern United States, and it is a particularly serious pest in Oklahoma, Missouri, and surrounding states. Other venomous species of Loxosceles are distributed in the drier areas of the southwestern United States, including much of west and southern Texas; the southern portions of New Mexico, Arizona, and California; and the extreme southern part of Nevada.

The Brown Recluse is usually found indoors, particularly in bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, garages, basements, and cellars. In homes with forced-air heating and air condition- ing and mostly above-ceiling ductwork, Brown Recluse Spiders are commonly found harboring in or around the ductwork or registers. They may also be present in attic areas or other locations above the ceiling. They are also commonly found in cluttered closets or basements and in outbuildings where miscellaneous items are stored. Their web is not elaborate and is best described as an off- white to gray, nondescript type of webbing.

The spider is not aggressive and usually retreats to cover when disturbed. Most bites occur when a person traps or crushes the spider while putting on old clothes that have been hanging in a garage, or by rolling on the spider while asleep in bed.