How common are brown recluse bites?

Is that a violin I see?!

Many people are afraid of spider bites, but fear of brown recluse bites are especially strong. So how do you know if you’ve been bitten by one?

First, identify.

The brown recluse is probably best known for its violin marking, but its most distinctive feature is that it has six eyes instead of the eight most spiders have. The brown recluse received its name for its color and its shy nature. A member of the Loxosceles genus, brown recluse spiders are generally very nonaggressive and will likely be in places of low traffic, like attics, and crawl spaces.

Second, Understand.

The Brown Recluse bite is a rarity. Most of the alleged bites are misdiagnosed and wrongly blamed. Many claim they have been bitten but never actually saw the offending spider.

It has been estimated that somewhere around 80% of recluse bites are misdiagnosed. So the likelihood of being bitten by a recluse is very low, due to its non-aggressive, shy behavior and its natural habitat of low traffic areas.

Before assuming it was a recluse bite, ask yourself what else might it have been? Skin irritations, or other types of bites have been known to be commonly mistaken for a brown recluse bite. The CDC has come up with a mnemonic called NOT RECLUSE. If more than one of these are true, you can almost completely rule out a brown recluse bite:


Numerous: More than one injury

Occurrence: Not in a secluded area like a box, closet or attic

Timing: The wound arose sometime between November and March

Red Center: The center of the wound is red

Elevated: The middle of the wound is elevated, not sunken

Chronic: The wound has persisted for more than three months

Large: The injury is more than 10 centimeters wide

Ulcerates Too Early: The injury gets crusty within the first week

Swollen: The wound swells up if it’s below the neck

Exudative: The wound is “wet,” oozing pus or clear fluid


However, a Brown Recluse bite is not something to mess with. If you believe you may have been bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Think you may have these pests in your home? Here are some tips and tricks to alleviate the problem:

  1. Inspect the outside of your home for any small openings or holes, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the home. Seal any such openings with a silicone caulk to prevent spiders and other insects from gaining access inside.
  2. Stack firewood at least twenty feet from your home and five inches off of the ground, to deter spiders from hiding out in the wood. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when moving the wood, and inspect it carefully before bringing indoors.
  3. Store clothes and shoes inside plastic containers and shake out all clothing that have been in a hamper, on the floor or in storage before wearing. Use extra caution when handling items that are not used often, such as boots, baseball mitts, skates and gloves.

If spiders or any other pests continue to be a problem, call the experts at American Pest Management, Inc for a free pest evaluation. We’ll be able to see and identify ways to keep your home and family safe and secure!