Brown Recluse Spiders

There are no known populations of Brown recluse spiders found in Washington State. There are several species of recluse spiders found in North America; however the most notorious one is the brown recluse. Its geographic range is central midwest to east coast (see map). The characteristic violin pattern on its back gives rise to common names such as “fiddleback or violin” spider. Brown recluse range from brown to deep yellow in color. They spin an unorganized web that is not designed for trapping prey but for protecting the spider.

Brown recluse will hunt their prey. They can be found in out of the way neglected areas of the home like garages, basements, furnace rooms, attics, etc. Contact with people is rare and usually occurs when cleaning seldom used areas of the home, wearing clothing that has been unused for long periods of time or by rolling on one while sleeping.

Bites of brown recluse are rarely lethal but can cause a very painful necrotic lesion that can take months to heal. In severe cases the lesion can be very large (up to 10″) and require cosmetic surgery.

Although brown recluse spiders are not native to Washington they could be transported here from their native range. However, chances of them establishing and thriving are non-existent.

There are estimates that up to 80% of brown recluse bites are actually misdiagnosed. In Washington state Hobo spider bites are frequently attributed to brown recluse. However, there are no known brown recluse populations in Washington. Another form of misdiagnosis is attributed to the staph infection called MRSA.