What Spider Has A Violin On Its Back?
Which Spider Has a Violin on Its Stomach?
- 1 Which Spider Has a Violin on Its Stomach?
- 2 Video of the Day
- 3 Violin Shape Identification
- 4 Habitat
- 5 Other Identifying Marks
- 6 Precautions
- 7 Bites
- 8 What Spider Has A Violin On Its Back?
- 9 Tips to Identify a Brown Recluse
- 10 What if I’ve been bitten?
- 11 Blog How to Identify a Brown Recluse Spider
- 12 Brown Recluse Spiders
- 13 Facts, Identification & Control
- 14 Brown Recluse Spider
Video of the Day
Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
A violin. The number eight. The infinity symbol. Anything resembling these shapes of two adjacent circles on the body of a spider should raise alertness, as it could be the extremely poisonous brown recluse spider. However, take other factors such as location, eye placement and size into consideration to prevent a wrong identification.
Violin Shape Identification
While other spiders may have circular brown markings, only the brown recluse has a distinct violin shape on its body. However, it may be quite difficult to distinguish it. For the brown recluse, this violin shape is usually dark brown on a lighter brown body, with the shape imposed on the cephalothorax of the spider. Though often known colloquially as the stomach of the spider, the cephalothorax is right between the head and bigger abdomen of the spider, and is the part of the body onto which the spider’s legs attach. Meanwhile, the neck of this violin shape should point to the back of the spider.
It is easy to misidentify violin shapes on spiders or otherwise mistake all brown spiders for recluses. Thus, you should find out if you are actually in an area where these spiders live in the first place. You can check a local map to be sure, but generally, the brown recluse spider lives throughout the South and Midwestern United States, covering states like Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Missippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, southern Illinois, and parts of eastern Texas. Outside of these areas, brown recluses are rarely found.
Other Identifying Marks
Brown recluses are about the size of a U.S. quarter with legs extended, and about 3/8 inch in body length. Their legs are uniformly light-colored and have no stripes or other marks. Closer up, while most spiders have eight eyes in two rows of four, brown recluses have six eyes arranged in pairs, with one pair in front and a pair on both the left and right sides. Meanwhile, its body is of a uniform light or dark brown color, with no markings. Spiders commonly mistaken for brown recluses include the cellar spider, which also has a darkened area on its cephalothorax, or the pirate spider, which has cephalic markings as well. Both these spiders, however, have eight eyes instead of six.
In areas where brown recluses are native, they are usually found in dark, secluded areas. Outdoors they may live under rocks, logs and other wood debris. Indoors they are commonly found in corners or other hidden places, like behind furniture, and generally do not come out in daylight. Thus, spider webs built out in the open usually do not belong to brown recluses. However, these spiders may come out and wander into shoes, clothing or bedding at night. If you live in an area with recluse spiders, be careful when moving furniture or searching for objects in dark, dusty areas of the house; also try to keep shoes, clothes and other clutter off the floor.
While brown recluses have a fearsome reputation, they are actually quite gentle spiders and usually won’t bite unless they somehow become trapped against bare skin. While most brown recluse bites heal within three weeks, some people may react to the venom by developing skin sores that end up destroying surrounding tissues. In the latter case, seek medical attention immediately, though these symptoms could also arise from bacterial infections. If you think you may have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, try to trap or at least squash the spider right after being bitten to bring for expert identification.
- Brown Recluse Spiders; Eric Ethan
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
Lei Line has been writing about health, science and technology since 2009, primarily in Asia. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies.
What Spider Has A Violin On Its Back?
It’s their active season. Here are some things you might not know.
Brown recluse spider. The photo shows its size in relation to a quarter. Image via Kansas State Research and Extension.
It’s brown recluse spider season. That’s the spider with the violin markings on its back – sometimes called the fiddleback spider, brown fiddler, or violin spider. Brown recluse spiders are rather shy and nonaggressive, but they have a powerful poison. Occasional bites happens because people and brown recluses often share the same living space. These spiders like dark corners and places inside the house, and also live under the furniture, boxes and books. From a research team at Kansas State University’s Department of Entomology, here are 10 things to know about these venomous spiders that like to live where we do:
1. Brown recluse spiders are found outdoors in the U.S. Midwest, as well as inside structures. They tend to thrive in the same environments that humans do.
2. Brown recluse spiders are venomous, but bites do not always result in large, necrotic lesions where surrounding tissue dies. Often, the bite goes unnoticed and only results in a pimple-like swelling. However, some people develop a necrotic wound (with blood and pus) which is slow to heal, with the potential for a secondary infection. If you know you’ve been bitten, catch the spider if safely possible, and show it to medical personnel for clear identification.
3. They readily feed on prey that is dead, so are attracted to recently killed insects. However, they can and will also attack live prey.
4. Brown recluses build small, irregular webs in out-of-the-way places but do not use these to capture prey. They tend to hide in the dark and move around at night searching for prey.
5. A brown recluse is tiny when it first emerges from the egg case and takes several molts to reach adulthood, six to 12 months. Remember, they are only active from March to October so this may take one to two years. Then they may live two to three years as adults. Females can produce two to five egg cases during this time (two or three is most common) and each may contain 20 to 50 spiderlings.
6. Sticky traps for spiders and other insects, available at most hardware and garden stores, work well to trap brown recluse spiders. They may not significantly reduce the numbers, but definitely help, and are a great way to detect and monitor the spider populations.
7. Brown recluse spiders are mostly only active from March through October, so trying to control them from October through March is generally not necessary or useful.
8. Insecticides labeled to control brown recluse spiders kill the spiders, but must be sprayed directly on them, or the spider needs to come into direct contact with the treated area while it is still damp. Otherwise, little control is achieved.
9. Brown recluse spiders are better controlled with insecticides on non-carpeted surfaces.
10. Preventative measures like sealing cracks in foundations and walls, clearing clutter in and around the home, moving woodpiles away from the house, placing sticky traps in low traffic areas and spraying pesticides can help eliminate brown recluse populations within the home.
Bottom line: Ten facts about brown recluse spiders.
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Tips to Identify a Brown Recluse
The brown recluse spider is a venomous spider that is often times referred to as the violin or fiddle back spider, due to the fact that it carries a violin-shaped marking on its back. This spider is also unusual because it has only six eyes, whereas most spiders have eight. Knowing how to identify a brown recluse spider could help you avoid any unpleasant encounters. Here are a few tips to help.
Where do brown recluse spiders live?
These spiders are commonly found in 15 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Brown recluse spiders may be transported from one location to another in boxes and other items.
What color is it?
A brown recluse has a tan to brown colored body. Its legs are the same light-colored brown with no other markings.
How can you locate its distinctive markings?
When determining how to identify a brown recluse spider, one of the most common ways is to look at the marking on its body. The violin shape should be relatively easy to distinguish if you look closely. This violin shape stands out because it’s much darker than the rest of the body. The marking is located on the top area of the spider, also known as the cephalothorax.
Does the body have any hair?
The brown recluse’s body is covered with a number of fine, small hairs that look somewhat like fur. The legs of the spider are smooth.
How big is it?
These spiders don’t grow to be very large. With the legs extended, the brown recluse is approximately the diameter of a quarter. If the spider you’re looking at is larger than this, you’re probably looking at a different type of spider.
What do their webs look like?
Brown recluse spider webs are often hidden, so you may not see them. These webs also aren’t used to catch prey like many other species of spiders use their webs for. Brown recluse webs are loose and sticky. The color of their web is typically off-white or grayish. Webs are usually found at ground level and are poorly organized.
Where did you find the spider?
As their name might imply, these spiders prefer to live in dark, dry, undisturbed areas. Here are a few places you are likely to find them:
piles of stone or rubble
hollow sections of trees
stored boxes or newspapers
shoes (especially those kept outside)
folds of drapery
What if I’ve been bitten?
Learning how to identify a brown recluse spider by its bite can be a challenge. Bites from the recluse are rare, despite the horror stories. Their bites are relatively painless, so you might not even know that you’ve been bitten until hours later. If you notice two fang-like punctures at the site of a bite and the area begins to form an appearance of a blister, it’s advisable to seek medical attention right away.
If you are still unsure of how to identify a brown recluse spider, call a pest management professional.
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Blog How to Identify a Brown Recluse Spider
The Brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) has quite a reputation. Recluses possess a necrotic venom that can rarely trigger severe or even life-threatening symptoms in bite victims. To make matters worse, the spider is relatively common in the central and southern US. After learning about the Brown recluse, lots of people start imagining them everywhere. No matter how rare Brown recluse spider bites are (very), just the possibility is enough to freak you out. That’s why we put together this guide on how to identify a Brown recluse for sure. Next time you think you see a recluse, check for each of the following elements:
Brown Recluse Spiders
Facts, Identification & Control
Appearance / Identification
Brown Recluse Spider
How Did I Get Brown Recluse Spiders?
Like many spiders, the brown recluse spider likes to stay secluded in dark corners of places that are rarely disturbed or cleaned. Inside locaations such as voids between and under kitchen cabinets, storage areas and basements inside houses can provide plenty of areas for these pests to hide. Outside these spiders may inhabit sheds, barns and garages and may unknowingly be brought inside a home when moving stored items inside. The abundance of prey insects can lure a brown recluse spider inside the house, as well as provide a sustainable source of food should they get inside a home.
How Serious Are Brown Recluse Spiders?
The pests lay up to five egg sacs with as many as fifty eggs in each. This can quickly escalate an infestation. While they typically refrain from attacking humans, brown recluse spiders will bite if provoked. This often occurs when people step on the pests or roll on them while sleeping. Bites can result in lesions, nausea, and fever.
How Do You Get Rid of Them?
The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage brown recluse spiders. Since every building or home is unique, your Orkin technician will design a special program for your situation.
Keeping spiders out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.
The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep spiders in their place. out of your home, or business.
Signs of a Brown Recluse Spider Infestation
The most likely sign of recluses are sightings of the spider.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Brown recluse spiders dwell in many of the same dark, sheltered places as black widows. They can be found in homes, barns and basements. Webs tend to appear disorganized and are built most commonly near ground level. The spider is a hunter, so the web is not intended to catch prey but instead roams around searching for prey. The brown recluse is found in the central southern part of the U.S., from Texas to the western most part of Florida.
Brown recluse spiders are shy and rarely bite unless provoked. Bites usually go unnoticed until effects manifest a few hours later. Most bites become red and fade away, but in uncommon cases necrosis or tissue damage can occur. A medical professional should be consulted if there are medical concerns.
Although urban myth purports that they are found throughout the U.S., studies have shown otherwise. Brown recluse spiders are endemic only to the American South and Midwest. Relocation of the brown recluse can occur in boxes or items moved from its native range. These usually are isolated events and do not result in an entire area becoming infested.
Many conditions are mistakenly diagnosed as brown recluse spider bites, including Lyme disease, diabetic ulcers, reactions to medication and bacterial infections.
Due to misinformation and fright, many people identify harmless spiders as brown recluses. They are also referred to as fiddleback spiders due to a distinctive marking on the thorax, which resembles a violin. Brown recluses have uniformly colored legs and abdomens; so any spider exhibiting distinct color variations and patterning on the legs or abdomen is not a brown recluse.
Brown Recluse Spider
ENTFACT-631: Brown Recluse Spider | Download PDF | En Español
by Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Many types of spiders live around homes and buildings. Most are harmless, and many are beneficial given they prey upon other nuisance insects, like mosquitos or flies.
One spider found in Kentucky and much of the Midwest that is potentially dangerous is the brown recluse. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘violin’ or ‘fiddleback’ spider because of the violin-shaped marking on its dorsum. Although brown recluse spider bites are rare, the venom can sometimes cause serious wounds and infestations should be taken seriously.
Fig. 1: Brown recluse spiders often have a fiddle-shaped marking.
Distribution and Diagnosis
The brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa, is found throughout the south central and Midwestern United States. Infestations in Kentucky are more common as one travels westward. Other species of Loxosceles spiders occur in the southwestern U.S. and southern California, but the brown recluse is the most notable and widespread. Recluse spiders are rare outside their native range. In general, these spiders are widely over-reported and less common than perceived. Occasionally, one or a few spiders may be transported to a non-native area in boxes or furnishings, but infestations seldom become established.
Fig. 2: Distribution of the brown recluse spider (dark shading) and other species of Loxosceles spiders in the U.S. (light shading) (adapted from distribution map of R. Vetter, Univ. Calif. Riverside).
Though variable in size, adult brown recluse spiders with legs extended are about the size of a U.S. quarter. Coloration ranges from tan to dark brown, and the abdomen and legs are uniformly- colored with no stripes, bands or mottling. The legs are long and thin and lack conspicuous spines. For laypersons, the most distinguishing feature of a brown recluse is a dark violin-shaped mark on its back, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the rear (abdomen) of the spider. This feature is consistent in adult brown recluses, but sometimes less obvious in younger spiders.
Fig. 3: The banding on the legs of this wolf spider is one indication that it is not a brown recluse.
A more definitive diagnostic feature is the eye pattern — brown recluses have a semi-circular arrangement of six eyes (three groups of two) while most other spiders have 8 eyes. Seeing this feature requires a good quality hand lens. Many harmless brown spiders are mistaken for the brown recluse, so it is prudent to have specimens confirmed by an entomologist or knowledgeable pest control firm.
Fig. 4: Brown recluse spiders have three pairs of eyes, arranged in a semi-circle.
Habits and Development
In nature, brown recluse spiders live outdoors under rocks, logs, woodpiles and debris. The spider is also well adapted to living indoors with humans. They are resilient enough to withstand winters in unheated basements and stifling summer temperatures in attics, persisting many months without food or water. The brown recluse hunts at night seeking insect prey, either alive or dead. It does not employ a web to capture food — suspended webs strung along walls, corners, ceilings, outdoor vegetation, and in other exposed areas are almost always associated with other types of spiders. In homes, such webs are often produced by harmless cobweb or cellar spiders. While sometimes considered a nuisance, spiders like the cobweb or cellar varieties prey upon other pests (including brown recluses), and in this sense could be considered beneficial.
Fig. 5: Cobweb spiders (left) and cellar spiders (right) often build webs in homes, but are harmless.
During daylight hours, brown recluse spiders typically retreat to dark, secluded areas. They often line their daytime retreats with irregular webbing, which is used to form their egg sacs. Adult female recluses seldom venture far from their retreat, whereas males and older juveniles are more mobile and tend to travel farther. Consequently, they are more likely to wander into shoes, clothing or bedding at night and bite people when they inadvertently become trapped against the skin. At times, brown recluse spiders will be seen during daylight hours crawling on floors, walls and other exposed surfaces. Such behavior can be triggered by hunger, overcrowding, pesticide application, or other factors.
About 40-50 eggs are contained within 1/3-inch diameter off-white silken egg sacs. The tiny emerged spiders gradually increase in size, molting five to eight times before becoming adults. The molted (shed) skins of the brown recluse have a distinct outstretched appearance and can be useful in confirming infestation.
Fig. 6: Shed skins of a brown recluse spider
Brown recluse spiders mature in about a year and have an average lifespan of 2 to 4 years. The females produce up to 5 egg sacs in a lifetime. Infestation levels in homes vary greatly, ranging from one or a few spiders to several hundred.
Bites and Medical Significance
Like other spiders, the brown recluse is not aggressive. It is quite common, in fact, to live in a building that is heavily infested and never be bitten. Most bites occur in response to body pressure, when a spider is inadvertently trapped against bare skin. Some people are bitten when they roll over a brown recluse in bed. Other bites occur while moving stored items or putting on a piece of clothing that a spider has chosen for its daytime retreat. Brown recluse spiders have very small fangs and cannot bite through clothing.
The initial bite is usually painless. Oftentimes the victim is unaware until 3 to 8 hours later when the bite site may become red, swollen, and tender. The majority of brown recluse spider bites remain localized, healing within 3 weeks without serious complication or medical intervention.
In other cases, the victim may develop a necrotic lesion, appearing as a dry, sinking bluish patch with irregular edges, a pale center and peripheral redness. Often there is a central blister. As the venom continues to destroy tissue, the wound may expand up to several inches over a period of days or weeks. The necrotic ulcer can persist for several months, leaving a deep scar.
Infrequently, bites in the early stages produce systemic reactions accompanied by fever, chills, dizziness, rash or vomiting. Severe reactions to the venom are more common in children, the elderly, and patients in poor health. Persons bitten by a brown recluse spider should apply ice, elevate the affected area, and seek medical attention immediately.
Spider bites are difficult to diagnose, even by physicians. Contrary to popular belief, it is difficult to diagnosis a brown recluse spider bite from the wound alone. Many medical conditions mimic the necrotic-looking sore from a recluse bite, including bacterial and fungal infections, diabetic and pressure ulcers, and gangrene. Several misdiagnoses have arisen from outbreaks of drug-resistant infections by Staphyloccus aureus (commonly referred to as a Staph infection). That bacterium produces painful skin lesions that resemble recluse bites, and can run rampant in close living quarters such as hospitals, camps, barracks, and correctional facilities. Similar-looking lesions can also be caused by other types of insects and arthropods.
Fig. 7: Many medical conditions are mistaken for brown recluse bites.
The wound on the left is from a recluse spider, the one on the right from a bacterial infection.
Suspected bites occurring outside the native range of the brown recluse spider are particularly unlikely, given that surveys rarely yield recluses in non-native areas. Presumptive bites become even more unlikely if thorough inspection of the premises yields no sign of brown recluse spiders. If possible, anyone bitten by what is thought to be a brown recluse should try to collect the specimen and bring it to a qualified individual for identification. Even crushed or damaged specimens can usually be identified. Confirmation by an expert will help the physician decide on the appropriate course of treatment.
Brown recluse spiders are difficult to eradicate, largely because of their secretive habits. Virtually any dark, undisturbed area can serve as harborage, and many such places occur within buildings. Because of this (and the potential health threat), treatment is best performed by professionals.
Where They Hide – Thorough inspection with a bright flashlight is needed to reveal the location and extent of infestation. Likely hiding places include crevices, corners, and wall-floor junctures, especially behind clutter and stored items. Reducing clutter affords fewer places for the spiders to hide and can enhance effectiveness of treatments. Brown recluse spiders may also live behind walls, and inhabit the voids within concrete block foundations. In infested garages, attics, basements and crawl spaces, the spiders, egg sacs, and distinctive shed skins are often found along joists, sills and rafters, as well as under rolled insulation. In living areas, they sometimes inhabit crevices behind and beneath beds and furniture, closets, clothing, shoes, and stored items. When sorting through boxes or materials, wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid being bitten. Brown recluse spiders also live above suspended ceilings, behind baseboards and woodwork, and within ducts and registers.
Fig. 8: Thorough inspections are needed to detect and treat hidden infestations.
Outdoors the spiders may be found in barns, sheds, woodpiles, and under anything laying on the ground. They also commonly reside behind shutters. Migration indoors can be reduced by moving firewood, building materials, and debris away from foundations. Sealing cracks and holes in a building’s exterior can further help to keep these, and other pests, outdoors. Some of the more common entry points for brown recluse spiders include gaps under doors, vents and utility penetrations, beneath the bottommost edge of siding, and where eaves and soffits meet the sides of buildings. Outdoor populations of brown recluse spiders are less common in the northern portions of its range.
Use of Glue Traps – An excellent way to survey for brown recluse is to install flat, sticky cards known as glue traps. Often used to capture mice and cockroaches, the traps can be purchased online or at grocery, hardware or farm supply stores. The best glue traps for capturing the spiders are flat, like thin pieces of sticky cardboard without a raised perimeter edge.
Fig. 9: Brown recluse spiders caught on a glue trap.
Several traps should be placed into corners and flush along walls.
The more glue traps used the better — dozens placed throughout a home will reveal areas where spiders are most abundant. Traps should be placed in corners and along baseboards and wall-floor junctures, especially behind furniture and clutter since spiders tend to travel in these areas. Besides being useful for detection, glue traps can capture and kill large numbers of spiders, especially the males, which are more likely to wander into places where people are accidentally bitten. Ongoing eradication efforts can be judged by the number of new spiders caught in traps. Glue traps should be installed before applying insecticides since some products will cause spiders to become active and wander into traps.
Use of Insecticides – Brown recluse spider elimination will often require use of insecticides. Some spiders will not be caught in glue traps, especially the adult females, which stay hidden more so than male spiders. Insecticides should be applied into cracks and other areas where spiders are likely to be hiding, attempting to contact directly as many as possible. Liquid, aerosol, and dust formulations may be employed.
Fig. 10: Insecticides are often needed to control infestations.
Dust insecticides are particularly effective for treating cracks along baseboards, sills, joists and rafters in basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Dusts also work well when treating under insulation, within voids of concrete block foundations, and behind light switch and outlet plates to contact spiders traveling along wires from attics. Effective dust insecticides include Cimexa®, Drione® and Tri-Die® (silica gel), Tempo® (cyfluthrin), and DeltaDust® (deltamethrin). Apply the dust as a fine deposit barely visible to the naked eye. Spiders and other pests tend to avoid powdery accumulations much as we would avoid walking through a snowdrift. The easiest way to apply such a small amount is with a ‘bellows’ hand duster sold in hardware stores or online.
Fig. 11: Dust formulations are easier to apply with a bellows duster.
Insecticides can also be sprayed into harborages and places where spiders tend to travel. Effective ingredients (e.g., cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin, lambda cyhalothrin) are often found in products used to control cockroaches, ants, and other crawling insects. The sprays can also be applied outdoors (behind shutters, the bottommost edge of siding, along foundations, etc. Total-release pesticide foggers known as ‘bug bombs’ are seldom effective against these spiders, and should only be considered when treating otherwise inaccessible areas.
As control measures are being implemented, precautions can be taken to further reduce the chance of being bitten. Beds should be moved away from walls, and remove any bed skirts/dust ruffles to break contact with the floor. Shoes and clothing should also be kept off floors, or at least shaken out before wearing. Remove excess clutter and store seldom used items in plastic storage containers. There may be some comfort in knowing that bites are a rare occurrence, even in dwellings where brown recluses are abundant.
CAUTION: The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE.
Please note that all photos in this publication are copyrighted material and may not be copied or downloaded without permission of the author.
Dr. Subba Reddy Palli
Department Chair & State Entomologist
S-225 Agricultural Science Center North
Lexington, KY 40546-0091