A Deadly Spider

Many people have a natural aversion to spiders. Most of us are threatened by these creepy crawlies despite the fact that majority of spider bites are not fatal to humans; however, there are certain species of spiders that can deliver a nasty and potentially fatal bite. The brown recluse spider is one of the spider species that is considered dangerous, along with black widow spider and hobo spider.

Brown recluse spiders are feared due to the severe symptoms that result from their bite. Their bite usually goes unnoticed at first because they generally deliver painless bites. In some occasions, the victim might feel a slight burning sensation like being stung by a bee. The symptoms typically develop after two to eight hours of being bitten.

How To Identify Brown Recluse Spiders

Before we discuss the symptoms of their bite, it is best to learn how you can identify and differentiate this type of spider from other species. In doing so, once you encounter them, you can take proper precautions to avoid getting bitten.

Brown recluse spiders are about 9.5mm long and they have a delicate appearance. These spiders can survive for months without eating or drinking, but they love to eat different types of insects. They also do not capture their prey through their webs. Other distinguishing features of this spider specie are the following:

  • They have a violin-shaped mark on their back. It is darker as compared to other parts of their body and the “neck” of the violin points toward their rear.
  • They only have 6 eyes as compared to the typical 8. Their eyes are arranged in a circular manner with two eyes in three different groups.
  • You should also check their color if you can safely get near them. These spiders have tan to dark brown color with no pattern or pigmentation.
  • They also have long, thin, hairy legs.

You can look for these spider species in dark and undisturbed areas of your home. This includes:

  • Attic, basement, barns, storage sheds
  • Closets, storage boxes
  • Woodpiles, rock crevices

Symptoms and Treatment Of Brown Recluse Spider Bite

These spiders bite when they feel threatened or if they are disturbed. For instance, a person may be bitten when he enters the attic to move undisturbed boxes, or if he wears an infested piece of clothing. Reactions to the bite may vary depending on the individual’s resistance and immune system. The reaction may also depend on the location of the bite and the amount of venom injected. Reactions may range from mild skin irritation to allergic reactions. Most bites usually heal themselves and do not result to tissue damage. Some of the symptoms that the victim might suffer from are:

  • Severe pain at the bite area at least four hours after being bitten
  • Intense itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Muscle cramps and pain

If you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, you might observe mild redness around the bite area and upon close inspection, you might find fang marks. The site will be firm to the touch and it will most likely heal with no tissue damage after a few days or within a week; however, first aid treatment must be administered.

  1. Clean the bite: You must clean the area where you were bitten with soap and water. You must also apply anti-inflammatory or antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
  2. Control Swelling: You can place an ice pack directly to the affected area. This will help reduce inflammation. It is also advisable to keep the bitten part lower than your heart. Doing so will help slow down the assimilation of the venom.
  3. Neutralize The Venom: You can also apply natural first aid treatment for a brown recluse spider bite to neutralize its venom. Here are a few tips:
    • Lavender Oil: You can apply three to five drops of lavender oil to the bite area. The essential oil can counteract the venom, speeding the healing process.
    • Vinegar: You can also apply this natural treatment to the area of the bite since it assists in the healing process.
    • Garlic: Mash whole garlic clove and apply it onto the bite. Remember not to leave the garlic on your skin for more than 10 minutes since it might irritate your skin.

If severe reactions start to manifest, promptly call for emergency medical treatment. It is best to consult with your doctor so that you will be given proper medication, especially if you are allergic to spider bites.


The author, Kris Hopkins, is a Registered Nurse and a writer for health websites where she offers first aid treatment tips for insect and bug bites. She also occasionally writes for pest control websites, such as http://RovePestControl.com.

Attached Images: License: Creative Commons image source: graftedno1.”Brown Recluse”. June 1, 2007 . Online Image. Flickr. April 19, 2013. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pachytime/525578872/
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