Typically found in the Southern regions of the United States, the Brown Recluse is a familiar spider to all of Missouri.

As its name indicates, the brown recluse is secluded and nocturnal in nature and hides in dark places. Once males reproductively mature, they wander in search of females. Small with a body size of approximately 3/8 of an inch in body length they can fit in the most minuscule of places.

They don’t build their webs out in plain view like other spiders nor do they use them to capture prey. Whether inside or outside they build small uneven silk refuges, in which they hide during the day.

Outside, these refugees are out of sight in cracks and crevices in sheds, barns and garages, undisturbed woodpiles or under objects like rocks or inside hollow trunks.

Inside the home, these refugees can be found in closets, heat and air exchange vents, cardboard boxes, stored clothing, old books, under furniture, crawl spaces, garages, cracks and crevices. Important: these spiders can and do spread, via means of traveling inside boxes and packaging.

The brown recluse:

Six eyes arranged in pairs, with one pair in front and a pair on either side.

  • A dark violin shape on the cephalothorax.
  • Uniformly light-colored legs – no stripes, no bands
  • Uniformly colored abdomen which can vary from

    cream to dark brown depending on what it has eaten, however, it will never have two colors of pigment at the same time.

  • No spines on the legs, only fine hairs
  • It is about 3/8 of an inch in body length.
  • Recluse spiders make small retreat webs behind objects, never out in the open. [1]


    The brown recluse is not aggressive towards humans by nature but will bite if disturbed or feel threatened. The spider will bite when pressed against the skin, such as when placing your foot into a shoe, putting on an article of clothing or a glove where a spider has taken up harborage.

More than 2,000 brown recluse spiders were removed from a heavily infested home in Kansas in 2001. Despite many encounters, the spiders never harmed the residents who had lived there.

Brown recluse spiders have poisonous venom that can potentially destroy red blood cells and damage other tissues. Although rare, depending upon the victim’s immune system a systemic event may take place followed by a necrosis. More information here



[3] Vetter, Rick. (1999). Identifying and Misidentifying the Brown Recluse Spider. Dermatology Online Journal, 5(2).

[4] Vetter, Rick. (2009). How to Identify and Misidentify a Brown Recluse Spider.