The Arizona Brown spider is the most famous of the recluse spider group, and it is commonly mistaken for the Desert Recluse because of how similar they look. These spiders are commonly referred to as violin spiders or fiddleback spiders because of a telltale violin-shaped mark on their bodies.
They also have 6 eyes instead 8 that are typical in spiders. These eyes are arranged in groups of 3, known as dyads. They have long, thin legs covered in fine hair which also covers their abdomen. They are uniformly colored light tan to dark brown. There are no spines on their legs. Their body length is about 1/3 inch and their leg span is 1 to 1.5 inches, and Brown Recluse males are slightly smaller than females.
Same with the other Recluse spiders, these spiders prefer areas that are not regularly disturbed by humans. They like to hide away under rocks, desert debris, and wood piles. They can also be found on piles of leaves, or if they’re indoors, in dark closets, basements, or attics. Bites from these spiders typically occur when they’re unknowingly trapped against us, such as putting on shoes or slippers left outside or someone reaching into an unseen area to try and grasp something.
People react differently to their bites – some people only experience a reddish bump that they can treat on their own, and others need to seek medical attention because the bite has caused tissue damage, which is worse when the bite occurs in particularly fatty areas of the body. Very young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to the effects of this spider’s bite. Other symptoms may include chills, fever, nausea, joint pain, weakness, and in more extreme cases, seizures or a coma.
These nocturnal creatures typically feed on ants, especially carpenter ants that are active at night. They may also eat larger insects if those insects are already dead.
If you live in an area that’s known to have Arizona Brown spiders, than be wary of picking up items that have been left unattended on the ground. Piles of laundry or clothing or toys may be a temporary refuge, so make sure to carefully shake each item before you put them away.
If you’re putting on shoes, especially ones you don’t regularly use, make sure to carefully inspect them – spiders and other small insects could have claimed that as their resting places, and many bite victims have stated that it was because of carelessly putting on shoes or clothing items that they’ve been bitten.
Things you can do to keep them out:
- Properly dispose of trash and other rubbish – woodpiles, storage boxes, tires etc. are safe havens for spiders
- Keep the perimeter of your house free from shrubs which insects can use as bridges to get to your house
- Make sure to keep your grass trimmed
- Always check clothing or other items that have been outside before using them or bringing them indoors – spiders (and other insects) may have temporarily taken refuge in them
- Seal gaps or cracks on your walls
- Invest in screens or mesh for windows and vents
- Consider weather stripping for doors and windows
- Remove webs and egg sacs as soon as you find them
Pesticides only work when directly sprayed on the spider, so if you’re doing your own pest control, make sure you wear protective gear.