Brown Recluse Spider - Kansas #1 Spider

Many different kinds of spiders live around homes and buildings. The vast majority are harmless, and in fact are beneficial, because they prey upon flies, crickets and other insects.

One spider in Kansas which is potentially dangerous is the brown recluse. Fortunately, this spider is relatively common, and has markings that the layperson can use to distinguish from other non threatening species.

Description and Habits

The brown recluse is about 1/4 to 1/2 inches in body length (most adults are about the size of a dime to a quarter with legs extended). Coloration ranges from tan to dark brown, with the abdomen often darker than the rest of the body. The feature that most distinguishes the brown recluse from many other harmless spiders is a somewhat darker violin-shaped marking on top of the leg-bearing section of the body. The neck of the violin "silhouette" points towards the rear (abdomen) of the spider.

Brown recluse spiders also have 3 pairs of eyes (arranged in 3 groups of two) rather than 4 pairs for most other spiders. This diagnostic feature requires use of at least a 10X hand lens.

The brown recluse roams at night seeking its prey. During the day, it hides in dark niches and corners, where it may spin a poorly organized, irregular web. Eggs are deposited in 1/2 inch long off white silken egg sacs, often appearing flattened beneath and convex above. It is shy and will try to run from a threatening situation but will bite if cornered. People are sometimes bitten while they are asleep because they roll onto a brown recluse spider while it is hunting in the bed. More often the victim is bitten while putting on a shoe or piece of clothing which a spider has selected for its daytime hiding place. A brown recluse may live without feeding for up to one year but survival without a water source the life span is shorten to few weeks.

The bite of the brown recluse is usually painless until 3 to 8 hours later when it may become red, swollen, and tender. Later the area around the bite site may develop into an ulcerous sore from 1/2 to 10 inches in diameter. Healing often requires a month or longer, and the victim may be left with a deep scar. Prompt medical attention can reduce the extent of ulceration and alleviate other complications that may develop. It should be noted that not all brown recluse bites result in ulcerations or scarring.

Spider bites are difficult to diagnose, even by physicians. Anyone bitten by a spider which is believed to be a brown recluse should try to collect the specimen and bring it to a qualified individual for identification. Positive identification by an expert will help the physician decide on the appropriate course of treatment.

If you believe you have seen or may have been bitten by a brown recluse, it is advisable to have your property thoroughly inspected and treated. Tri County Pest Control has the experience of handling any infestation of brown recluse from slight to severe. We can make your property a safer and healthier environment.