Brown Recluse Spider
Over the years, the group of spiders to which the brown recluse belongs has been known by various colloquial names: “violin” spiders, “fiddleback” spiders, “recluse” spiders, and “brown” spiders. Many publications refer to the violin marking on the top surface of the head region as the most important diagnostic feature. Although this marking is fairly consistent in mature brown recluses, it can vary in intensity and sometimes fades in preservative, and it is very faint to nonexistent in several recluse species. To be identified as a recluse spider, it must have all five of these characteristics.
- six eyes in pairs as opposed to eight eyes (like most spiders)
- uniformly colored abdomen with fine hairs
- no spines on the legs
- uniformly colored legs
- body not more than 3/8” in length
The brown recluse is an enigma in California: there are no populations of the brown recluse, Loxosceles reclusa, in the state and fewer than 20 verified specimens have been collected over several decades in California.
Recluse spiders, as their name implies, are reclusive. These nocturnal spiders emerge from their retreats at night and actively hunt down prey or may wait for prey to land in the small area several inches from their retreat. Although they do not build webs to capture prey, they do use silk to build a retreat in which they hide during the day. As dawn approaches, they may seek shelter in dark places such as in clothing or shoes. In nature, recluses are found in cracks and crevices in and under rocks. Recluses have very much benefited from human-altered environments where they are readily found under trash cans, plywood, tarps, or rubber tires, in boxes, etc.