Lots of people are scared of the brown recluse, but these spiders are actually very shy and prefer to be left alone. Brown recluses are so quiet, in fact, that most people don’t even know it when they’re housemates. One Kansas homeowner found more than 2,000 brown recluse spiders in their house, and nobody was bitten!
While brown recluses are venomous—and occasionally their bites make people very ill—most of the hysteria about these spiders is exaggerated. Plus, they’re often misidentified. It’s unlikely to find one of these critters outside its range (check the map here).
If you think you see a brown recluse but aren’t sure, send a Tweet to @RecluseOrNot for an expert ID. Stay chill; spiders are your friends, not foes.
About the Author
In addition to being an arachnologist and the associate provost of Teaching and Academic Programs at McGill University, Chris Buddle is an artist, writer, and lover of life. Each month, Chris shares an illustration and haiku of some of the natural wonders found in this beautiful world.
Check our facts!
Scott, C. “Recluse or Not?” published at https://spiderbytes.org/recluse-or-not/ [accessed March 2022]
Vetter RS, DK Barger. 2002. An Infestation of 2,055 Brown Recluse Spiders (Araneae: Sicariidae) and no envenomations in a Kansas home: Implications for bite diagnoses in nonendemic areas. 2002. Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 39 (6): 948–951, https://doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-39.6.948
Vetter RS. 2009. Arachnids misidentified as brown recluse spiders by medical personnel and other authorities in North America. Toxin 54(4): 545-547 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.04.021