Weird Nature

Things Most People Don't Know About Brown Recluse Spiders 

Cheryl Adams Richkoff
11 items

All across North America, the brown recluse spider strikes fear into the hearts of people even thousands of miles outside its habitat. However, though venomous, this arachnid becomes a lot less dangerous when you start to learn facts about brown recluse spiders. Pictures of brown recluse spiders show you they are quite small, and their venom thankfully can only be injected in small amounts. Maligned as malicious killers, brown recluse spiders typically hide away and rarely appear to people. A brown recluse bite, while certainly a terrible spider bite, likely won't kill or harm you all that much so long as you take the proper steps to treat it.

Learning more about the brown recluse spider can teach you not just about their bites but also the fascinating ways they differ from other spiders. Their reputation may be awful, but brown recluses just want to live their days out in your woodpiles in peace.

A Bite Won't Cost Your Your Life – But It Might Cost You A Limb
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Photo: CDC/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The venom from a brown recluse spider packs a punch, but it rarely kills anyone. Reported deaths from the brown recluse include only very young children. Though it may not kill you, a bite from a brown recluse should still be considered quite dangerous. Brown recluse venom is highly poisonous, even more so than that of a rattlesnake, though thankfully the spider can only inject a small amount through skin. Initial symptoms appear between two-to-eight hours after the bite and include nausea, fever, and itching. 

When left untreated the venom really takes its toll. The high toxicity of the venom wreaks havoc on skin cells and tissue and may cause necrosis. In severe cases, the venom causes the flesh around the bite to be eaten away, possibly even resulting in removal of limbs. Kidney failure, comas, and even death can occur as secondary effects of a brown recluse bite.

Some Say You Can Identify Them By Their 'Violin' Shape, Though That's Only Half-True
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Photo: Br-recluse-guy/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Plenty of brown spiders exist in various sizes, so how do you know you're up against the venomous brown recluse? Well, some people also call the brown recluse the "fiddleback" spider, a useful moniker to help you identify a potential recluse. For years, people searched for a marking shaped like a violin that appears on the spider's backside as a means of identifying them. However, it turns out this 'violin' actually appears near the spider's eyes, meaning in order to identify the fiddle shape, you need to zoom in on it. If you think you came in contact with a recluse, you can always look for the violin. Just don't get too close!

Brown Recluse Spiders Actually Prefer 'Habitats' Made By Humans
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Photo:  rlockeby/Pixabay

They're not called the "brown recluse" for nothing. In the wild, they appear under rocks and logs, but these locations are not ideal real estate for a brown recluse. In fact, this arachnid prefers human environments, where dry and tucked away places exist in abundance: corners, under furniture, woodpiles, in drawers, shoe boxes, etc. Not known for aggression, a brown recluse won't bother anyone unless disturbed. The trouble is, many times, they make their home in yours. Careful next time you go fumbling through your sock drawer or cleaning out the corner of your garage.

They Are Masters Of Disguise
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Photo:  Rosa Pieda/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Brown recluse spiders boast a lot of look-alike spidery relations. Brown is apparently all the rage in the arachnid world, so you must look closely to make sure the brown spider you spotted is an actual brown recluse. Looking for the fiddle on its back is a great start, but unfortunately, a lot of brown spiders have somewhat similar markings. The key is to look at the eyes. Most spiders have two sets. Brown recluse spiders have three.