Spider Quiz #9

Brown recluses are common throughout the United States and are easily identifiable by the violin on their carapace: FALSE

First off, let’s look at the first part of the question–“brown recluses are common throughout the United States.” While they ARE common in SOME places in the United States, they are not found everywhere in the Untied States.

Brown Recluse spiders live in the south central Untied States. Check out this map–which was used with permission from the Burke Museum’s page about spider myths by Rod Crawford. He is a spider expert and has been studying them for 44 years! I believe I will trust his expertise!

Map from the Burke Museum

Map used with permission from Rod Crawford at the Burke Museum

If you live outside of this green area, it is unlikely you are going to encounter a brown recluse!

Now, let’s look at the second part of the question: brown recluses “are easily identifiable by the violin shape on their carapace.” While it IS true that brown recluses have a violin shape on their carapace (the front section) many other spiders also have what could be described as a violin shape on their bodies.

As I said in question number 2, it is difficult to identify spiders and most of the time a microscope is needed. Simply looking at a spider and noticing a violin-shape on their body does not make it a brown recluse. Check out these photos–notice that some of them do seem to have what could be described as a violin shape on them, but none are brown recluses.

viol- viol-052 viol-5658 viol-5816

So what does a brown recluse look like? Click HERE to see a picture from the University at California, Riverside, but please note there are other species that look similar to the naked eye!

Brown recluse spiders

  • have 6 eyes, not 8 as is the case with most spiders. These eyes are in an arrangement of 3 pairs of 2
  • a violin shape RIGHT BEHIND THE EYES, not on the abdomen or further down on their bodies.
  • uniformly light colored legs with no bands or stripes on them
  • also a uniformly colored abdomen
  • no spines or spikes on their legs–only fine hairs
  • they do not build webs out in the open–instead they make “retreat”webs in a hidden place. If the web is out in the open, it is not from a brown recluse!
  • they are small–only 3/8th of an inch in length! They could easily sit on a DIME. So when you see a giant spider with what you think is a violin shape, it is not a brown recluse!

To read more about brown recluse identification, check out these REPUTABLE sites from ARACHNOLOGISTS who have made studying spiders their speciality.

University of California, Riverside

Burke Museum, Rod Crawford

Here is the next, and last question on the spider quiz:

10. Medical professionals can easily identify spider bites from their twin punctures and from the symptoms described by the patient.

Click HERE for the answer or HERE to return to the quiz.