While many types of spiders are harmless, there are a few species that can be potentially dangerous. Among these species, is the brown recluse, notorious for its venomous bite. Several spider species closely resemble the brown recluse, causing confusion and fear for homeowners and business owners alike. In this blog, we’ll talk about the differences between the brown recluse and its lookalikes to help you identify them and take appropriate action.

Brown Recluse: What to Know

Brown recluse spider from above.

  • Light to dark brown with a violin-shaped marking on its back
  • ⅝” in length
  • Active at night and eats other bugs like cockroaches and crickets
  • Often live outdoors in debris and wood piles, but can be found in indoor storage areas and dark recesses
  • Only bite humans in self-defense
  • Bites can cause open, ulcerating sores

Common Lookalike Spiders

Close up of a wolf spider.

Wolf Spider:

  • Have a similar body shape to brown recluses but lack the distinctive violin-shaped mark
  • Have excellent eyesight, with two prominent, large eyes in front


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Cellar Spider:

  • Has slim, long legs, and is much thinner than a brown recluse
  • Does not harm humans
  • The darkened pattern around its eyes can cause misidentification with the brown recluse

Key Differences

To differentiate between the brown recluse spider and its lookalikes, be sure to focus on these key characteristics.

Violin-Shaped Marking: If it’s missing a violin-shaped marking, it’s likely not a brown recluse spider.

Eye Arrangement: Brown recluses have 6 eyes in 3 pairs, arranged in a semicircle pattern.

Web-Building Behavior: Brown recluses do not construct neat, intricate webs. They create loose, irregular webs or none at all.

As seasons change and the weather cools down, spiders start looking for warmth and a new home. If you begin having problems with these eight-legged pests or don’t even want to chance encountering them, contact the professionals at Bug Zero to ease your mind.