The elusive, brown recluse spider

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The brown recluse spider is a spider worth knowing. Its bite often is painless but venomous, and medical attention is advised as soon as a spider bite is suspected. At the location of the bite a red area may develop and wasting of tissue can ensue.

The brown recluse is not an aggressive spider. It does not like to venture out into daylight, preferring to retreat to dark shadowy places. If harassed it can run quickly, but most often it will move slowly and cautiously.

This soft-bodied spider is native to the southern Midwest, which puts Southeast Missouri right in the middle of its range. Its natural habitat consists of forested places where it lives in holes in dead snags, fallen logs and under rocks. But the brown recluse has become well known for living inside people's homes. As expected it will favor dark undisturbed places such as closets, shoes that have been left unworn for periods of time and coats that hang unused for several months.

Close inspection of this spider's back will reveal a dark violin shape, leading to the spider also being called violin spider, brown fiddler, and fiddle-back spider. The brown recluse has six eyes in three pairs of two, instead of the eight eyes most spiders have.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by Aaron at The Painted Wren Gallery.

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