Common names: Brown Recluse, Violin Spider, Fiddleback Spider
Scientific name: Order Araneae, family Loxoscelidae, Loxosceles reclusa
Size: Adult--1" to 1 1/2"
Identification: Adults are light brown in color and have very long legs. Females are larger than the males and have a distinctive dark brown violin shape on the back. They make irregular webs.
Biology and life cycle: Incomplete metamorphosis. Females produce one to five egg sacs with a total of 30 to 300 eggs that hatch in one month. Nymphs pass through eight instars (young forms resemble adults). Total life cycle is about one year. Adults can live from two to five years. They bite in defense when they sense pressure (in clothes or bedding).
Habitat: Under rocks, in loose papers, boxes, clothing, bedding, and shoes. Webs are used as a place to hide rather than to catch prey.
Feeding habits: They hunt at night and feed on various insects.
Economic importance: Brown recluse spiders help control several pest insects, but their bite can cause a serious wound and in rare cases the loss of a limb.
Natural control: Other spiders, wasps and lizards.
Organic control: Physical removal of webs. Vacuum often and spray problem areas with citrus products. Freeze boxes of infested papers for forty-eight hours. Use diatomaceous earth outdoors and boric acid products or plant oil products indoors.
Insight: Bites don't hurt at first but become extremely painful later. There is no antivenin. Shake out clothes that have been on or near the ground overnight or hanging in the closet or garage for a long period. Brown recluse spiders are dangerous but clumsy. They donít climb glass well but will often get curious about a glass container that is next too a vertical surface, venture down into the glass and get trapped.
One of my listeners sent an interesting report on brown recluse spiders. She has been trying to control them for 15 years and discovered that a similar looking spider actually kills the recluse. The good spiders have no fiddle on the back but do have black knobs at the joints of the legs. This report is apparently about the spitting spider.