The Itsy Bitsy Spider

BrownRecluse2Brown recluse Season

Spring cleaning outdoors and indoors is in full swing and spiders are making their return.  In the Midwest we always have the concern for brown recluse spider bites.   The spiders are mostly active beginning in March and going through October.

Regional Distribution of the Brown Recluse Spider


The brown recluse spider is more active at night and tends to like dark, undisturbed locations.  Watch out for dead timber outdoors and dark corners in your garage and basement.




The brown Recluse Spider
Typical Appearance of Brown Recluse Spiders
Typical Appearance of Brown Recluse Spiders

Size: 0.25-0.75 inches

Color:  cream-colored to dark brown or blackish gray

Markings: violin on back(note other spiders with similar)

The Brown Recluse Spider BITe

The brown recluse is a venomous spider.  Its bite is known for large necrotic skin lesions but often only results in a small pimple or pustular lesion.

Pustular Lesion
Pustular Lesion
Necrotic Lesion
Necrotic Lesion






Treatment for Brown Recluse Spider Bites

There is no anti-venom for a brown recluse spider bite.  Treatment is supportive and is directed at the inflammation, necrosis, and secondary infections.  The following are possible treatments:

  • Tetanus immunization if not current
  • Antibiotics for any secondary infection or prevention of secondary infection
  • Anithistamines to help with any swelling or itching
  • Prednisone to help with inflammation while controversial is commonly used
  • Dapsone also controversial has been used to help with the necrosis
  • Pain medications
  • Wound care
Prevention and Brown Recluse Spider Control
  • Clean up wood piles and keep away from your house
  • Keep your bed away from walls and declutter under bed, avoid bed skirts
  • Keep clothes off the floor
  • Watch out for infrequently worn shoes, garden gloves, baseball mitts, etc.
  • Watch out getting things out of storage areas i.e. cardboard boxes
  • Generalized decluttering
  • Use sticky traps to assess population burden and control

Ann Riggs, DO

Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare
Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare