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Meet the Brown Recluse Spider

Even though the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa, is not established in Florida, we are covering it here because most people believe that it does infest here in Florida. This happens because ( 1 ) brown recluse bites are often misdiagnosed, even by medical experts, and ( 2 ) the spider that bit is often misdiagnosed (or more often unseen).

Once in a desirable nest site, brown recluses can occupy the same space for generations. Although it can be transported to other areas, it rarely establishes outside its range in the south-central and central Midwestern states. However, there are twelve other Loxosceles spiders, most found in Texas and the Southwest, that can look almost identical and have medically important bites.

The body of the brown recluse is 3/8 inch (11 millimeters) long. Including its eight legs, it's about the size of a quarter. Color is a variable light gray-brown. Its only marking is a darker fiddle or violin shape on the head end. And has three pairs of eyes at the bottom of the fiddle.

The Brown Recluse Spider as a Pest

Indoors, this shy spider is found in dark cracks, in stored items in garages, basements, and closets, along joists or sills. It prefers to crawl under, behind, or between objects such as flaps on a cardboard box, behind pictures on a wall, in tracks of a window frame, or between pages of a newspaper. It constructs a small, irregular, whitish-gray web, and its shed skins may be found nearby.

These non-aggressive spiders scare people who have seen photos or exaggerated stories about their necrotic bite lesions. Bites are rare; in some cases, the venom can leave an ulcerated wound that is slow to heal and rarely results in death. Bites attributed to the brown recluse are more often from other spiders, insects, even certain medical conditions. A brown recluse spider bite is not confirmed unless the spider is captured and identified. Sticky traps are helpful monitoring tools.

Key Points to Remember. The brown recluse spider also called a "fiddle-back spider," is a resident of the central south and lower Midwestern U.S. Bites can be severe but are routinely misdiagnosed both in regions where it occurs and elsewhere.

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