Brown Recluse Spider



The brown recluse makes its home in the south-central area of the United States.  They appear most abundantly in states such as Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Alabama, and Kentucky.  As seen below, the brown recluse can be found in many other states as well.  They occupy the dark, shaded region of the map (Kansas Academy of Science).

The distribution of the brown recluse in the United States.  This map is the property of the Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky.


The brown recluse spins a gray-colored thread into a web to create protection for itself during the day.  These webs are not usually built in plain sight, as this organism prefers not to be disturbed.  The brown recluse web is nothing like a traditional, flat web.  It consists of many different planes and serves as a small house.

A spider has built this irregular web as a small fort.  This photo is the property of Fulcher Photography.
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This spider prefers to make its home in a dark, secluded environment.  They can be found in a few different habitats including deserts and mesic forests.  These spiders can be seen in areas where this is much protection from the environment, such as in wood piles.  However, they are most commonly found inside or near a person's home.  If you decide to go looking for this creature inside your house, your best chance to discover one would be to look in dark areas such as the basement, attic, crawl space, or a closet (Ohio State Extension Factsheet).  Outside of your home, you may need to look in very small areas such as underneath shutters or between cracks in siding to find one.  The brown recluse does not enjoy the company of other organisms.  They will most likely be found by themselves or in colonies with others of their own kind.  If you happen to come across a colony of them, take caution!  Brown recluse colonies are often large and, in extreme cases, can sometimes contain up to a few thousand spiders!

A brown recluse is guarding its nest.  This photo is the property of Mike Keeling.

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It is more common to come across these spiders in urban or residential areas than in the wild because of their niche preferences.  They can hunt for their prey almost anywhere.  Because of this, it is easier for them to live outside the boundaries of nature.  Brown recluses have much less natural predators in somebody's home than out in the wild.

The spider is nocturnal, so it is not usually occupying its home at night.  Instead, it roams to surrounding area in search of prey.  Take a look at the nutrition page to see what kind of organisms the Brown Recluse likes to prey upon.