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Venomous Spiders of the Carolinas II: The Brown Recluse


Aside from the Black Widow, the second venomous spider of concern in the Carolinas is the Brown Recluse. The Brown Recluse is most active from March through October. They’re typically found in dark corners, boxes, books and under furniture. They tend to be shy and not very aggressive unless they feel threatened.

About the Brown Recluse

The Brown Recluse spider is indefinable by a darker brown violin shape on their body. This violin-shaped marking has earned them a number of nicknames such as violin spider, brown fiddler and fiddleback spider. While they tend to be on the shy side, when they bite, their venom is a hemotoxin. Hemotoxins cause destruction of red blood cells.

Baby Brown Recluse spiders take from six to 12 months to develop into adults. They weave irregular-shaped small webs, however they don’t use their webs to catch prey like other spiders do. Instead, they prefer to eat dead insects such as other spiders or will even hunt and kill other live insects.

Brown Recluse Bite

The Brown Recluse is well known for its bite. Some people will experience mild soreness, redness and sometimes a pimple-like swelling at the site of the bite. Other people will react strongly to the venom and develop a large skin lesion with ragged edges, necrosis (black and decaying dead flesh) and an open gangrenous wound that is difficult to heal. In these cases, flesh surrounding the wound and parts of the wound might need to be removed surgically to stop the spreading necrosis and gangrene. Other symptoms include fever, nausea, chills, vomiting, itching, sweating, joint pain, muscle pain and a general feeling of malaise or being unwell. In a very small percentage of cases, the venom and wound can lead to a systemic infection that can be fatal.

If you believe you have been bitten by a Brown Recluse, try to capture the spider (safely) in a clear container with a tight lid and take it with you to the emergency room for proper identification. At this time, there is no anti-venom for Brown Recluse bites, though one exists in South America for a related species of Recluse spider.

Getting Rid of Brown Recluse Spiders

Like many spiders, the Brown Recluse is fairly resistant to many pesticides and insecticides unless it is sprayed directly on them. A better way to determine if you might have Brown Recluse spiders in your home is to place a sticky insect trap in a dark spot that won’t be disturbed by kids or animals. The best way to deal with spiders of all kinds is to prevent them from coming in. Move wood piles or debris build-up away from your home, seal cracks in the foundation, around windows and doors and seal cracks in walls.

If you do catch what looks to be a Brown Recluse in your sticky trap or another area of your home, call The Pest Force right away for proper identification and to help you implement the best strategy for controlling pests. Finding a Brown Recluse isn’t terribly common here in South Carolina; in fact, here is a helpful article that explains more about the brown recluse: