The Difference Between House Spiders & Brown Recluses

No matter where you go in your home, most likely there's a spider in the room with you. House spiders are common throughout the nation. Though most are harmless, there are some poisonous spiders, such as the brown recluse, that can deliver painful and debilitating bites. Identifying a brown recluse in your home requires knowledge of how these spiders operate, where they live and what they look like.

...
A brown recluse spider weaves a web on a house.

Location

...
A brown recluse spider captures prey in its web.

There are likely hundreds of varieties of house spiders wandering about your home, depending on the area of the U.S. in which you live. Brown recluses typically live in the central Midwest and the South, in a region including Georgia in the east, Texas in the west, north to Iowa and south to the Gulf of Mexico. While they can and do live in other areas, they prefer warmer climates.

Visibility

...
A brown recluse spider weaves a web.

You can find house spiders throughout your home at all hours of the day. A brown recluse, on the other hand, typically only comes out at night or in dark areas of the home. House spiders vary in their appearance; brown recluse spiders are light brown to dark brown with a round body. Brown recluse spiders have a dark brown violin-shaped mark on their backs, their primary identifying mark.

Habitat

...
A brown recluse spider on its web in the dark.

A house spider may reside in places that are less-traveled but still visible, such as under furniture, on windowsills and in corners. The brown recluse, on the other hand, likes to be completely secluded. According to the website "Pest World for Kids," a brown recluse commonly lives in cellars, basements, attics or in piles of stored materials where it can rest undisturbed.

Bites

...
A brown recluse spider on skin.

The majority of house spiders don't bite, but those that do bite usually don't cause serious or life-threatening conditions. A house spider bite will often leave a red, irritated bump that usually occurs in the middle of the night without disturbing sleep. But a brown recluse spider inflicts a painful bite that you will notice instantly. The bite forms a blister with a red-and-white ring, which turns into an itchy rash within 24 to 48 hours. High amounts of venom from a brown recluse spider bite can cause fever, chills, nausea, muscle aches, vomiting and even heart conditions.