In the mature brown recluse spider, there is a dark "violin" marking with the neck of the violin pointing toward the abdomen. The abdomen is uniformly colored, although the coloration can range from light tan to dark brown, and is covered with numerous fine hairs that provide a velvety appearance. Adult brown recluse spiders have a leg span about the size of a quarter, with a body of 3/8-inch length, 3/16-inch width.


Brown recluse spiders usually occupy dark, undisturbed sites. Inside, they may be found in attics, basements, crawl spaces, cellars, closets, and ductwork or registers. They may nest in storage boxes, shoes, clothing, folded linens, and behind furniture. They also may be found in outbuildings such as barns, storage sheds, and garages. Outdoors, brown recluse spiders may be found underneath logs, loose stones in rock piles, and stacks of lumber.

The brown recluse spider spins a loose, irregular web of very sticky, off-white to grayish threads. This web serves as the spider's daytime retreat. This spider roams at night searching for insect prey.


The brown recluse spider is largely a scavenger, preferring dead insects.


Bites can be avoided by wearing heavy gloves when moving items stored for long periods outside or in garages, basements, or warehouses. Shoes should be stored inside shoeboxes or shaken vigorously prior to wearing. Inspect carefully before putting your hand down under an object such as a log or rock. Professionals can remove spider infestations with a shop vacuum and apply spider control materials that help prevent their return.