Differences Between Brown Recluse And House Spiders

Understanding the differences between Brown Recluse and House Spiders is essential for homeowners, as these spiders often share the same living spaces with humans. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the key distinctions between these two spider species in terms of their physical appearance, habitat, behavior, and medical significance. By the end of this guide, you should be able to identify and manage these spiders more effectively.

Brown Recluse

Physical Appearance

Brown Recluse Spider

  • Size and color: Brown Recluse Spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) are small, with a body length of about 1/4 to 3/4 inches (6-20mm). They are typically light to dark brown in color, but can also appear yellowish or grayish.
  • Distinctive markings: A notable feature of the Brown Recluse is the dark violin-shaped marking on its cephalothorax (the fused head and thorax). This marking has earned them the nickname “fiddleback” or “violin” spider.
  • Body and leg structure: Brown Recluse Spiders have six eyes arranged in three pairs (dyads) rather than the usual eight eyes found in most spiders. Their legs are long and slender, with no spines.

House Spider

  • Size and color: House Spiders (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) are also small spiders, measuring approximately 1/4 to 3/8 inches (6-10mm) in body length. Their color can vary from brown to gray, with a mottled or marbled pattern.
  • Distinctive markings: House Spiders typically have a less distinct pattern on their abdomen, with no violin-shaped markings.
  • Body and leg structure: House Spiders have eight eyes arranged in two rows, with their legs being slightly more robust and covered in small spines.

Comparison of the two species

  • Both species are small and can vary in color from light to dark brown.
  • Brown Recluse Spiders have a distinct violin-shaped marking, while House Spiders have less prominent patterns.
  • Brown Recluse Spiders have six eyes and slender legs, whereas House Spiders have eight eyes and more robust, spiny legs.

Habitat and Distribution

Brown Recluse Spider

  • Geographic range: Brown Recluse Spiders are mainly found in the southeastern and central United States.
  • Preferred habitats: They typically inhabit dark, undisturbed areas such as woodpiles, sheds, garages, basements, and closets.
  • Indoor presence: Brown Recluse Spiders can also be found indoors, often hiding in cluttered areas, behind furniture, or in clothing and shoes.

House Spider

  • Geographic range: House Spiders have a more extensive range, and can be found throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Preferred habitats: They thrive in various environments, such as gardens, garages, basements, attics, and wall voids.
  • Indoor presence: House Spiders are more commonly encountered indoors, where they build their webs in corners, window frames, and other sheltered areas.

Comparison of habitat and distribution

  • Brown Recluse Spiders have a more limited geographic range and prefer dark, undisturbed areas.
  • House Spiders can be found in a wider range of environments and are more commonly encountered indoors.


Brown Recluse Spider

  • Web structure and location: Brown Recluse Spiders build irregular, loosely constructed webs, often in hidden and protected locations.
  • Hunting and feeding habits: These spiders are nocturnal hunters, feeding primarily on insects such as cockroaches, crickets, and other spiders. They use their venom to immobilize their prey before consuming it.
  • Reproduction and life cycle: Female Brown Recluse Spiders lay eggs in silken egg sacs, usually producing 40-50 eggs per sac. The spiderlings hatch within a month and take about a year to mature.

House Spider

  • Web structure and location: House Spiders create a tangle of silk threads, known as cobwebs, in sheltered locations like corners, window frames, and under furniture.
  • Hunting and feeding habits: House Spiders are also nocturnal predators, feeding on a variety of insects and other spiders that get caught in their webs. They will often abandon a web and build a new one if it isn’t catching enough prey.
  • Reproduction and life cycle: Female House Spiders can lay hundreds of eggs in their lifetime, which are contained in round, silken egg sacs. The spiderlings emerge after a few weeks and will grow to maturity over several months.

Comparison of behaviors

  • Both species are nocturnal hunters, feeding primarily on insects and other spiders.
  • Brown Recluse Spiders build irregular webs in hidden locations, while House Spiders create cobwebs in more visible areas.
  • Brown Recluse Spiders have smaller egg sacs and a longer maturation period compared to House Spiders.

Bites and Medical Significance

Brown Recluse Spider

  • Bite frequency and circumstances: Brown Recluse Spiders are not aggressive and will only bite when they feel threatened, such as when trapped against the skin.
  • Symptoms and potential complications: A Brown Recluse bite can cause mild to severe symptoms, including pain, redness, and swelling. In some cases, the bite can lead to necrosis (tissue death) and require medical attention.
  • Treatment and prevention: If bitten, it’s important to clean the wound and seek medical advice. To prevent bites, minimize clutter, wear gloves when handling stored items, and shake out clothing and shoes before wearing them.

House Spider

  • Bite frequency and circumstances: House Spiders rarely bite humans and usually only do so when they feel threatened.
  • Symptoms and potential complications: A House Spider bite is generally mild, with symptoms like localized pain, redness, and swelling. These bites are not medically significant and typically resolve on their own.
  • Treatment and prevention: If bitten, clean the wound and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. To prevent bites, keep living spaces clean and free of excess clutter.

Comparison of bites and medical significance

  • Brown Recluse Spiders have a venomous bite that can cause serious complications, while House Spider bites are mild and not medically significant.
  • Both species will only bite when threatened.

Pest Control and Management

Brown Recluse Spider

  • Preventative measures: Keep living spaces clean and free of clutter, seal cracks and crevices in walls and foundations, and store items in airtight containers.
  • Safe removal methods: Use sticky traps to catch and monitor Brown Recluse Spiders. If you find one, carefully capture it with a jar or container and release it outdoors.
  • Professional assistance: If you suspect a Brown Recluse infestation, consider hiring a professional pest control service to manage the problem safely and effectively.

House Spider

  • Preventative measures: Regularly clean and vacuum living spaces, seal cracks and gaps in walls and foundations, and maintain a clutter-free environment.
  • Safe removal methods: If a House Spider is found indoors, capture it with a jar or container and release it outside. Alternatively, gently remove their webs with a broom or vacuum.
  • Professional assistance: While House Spiders are generally harmless, you can still contact a professional pest control service if you experience a significant infestation or if their presence becomes a nuisance.

Comparison of pest control and management techniques

  • Both species require similar preventative measures, such as maintaining a clean living space, sealing cracks and gaps, and storing items properly.
  • Safe removal methods include using sticky traps or capturing the spiders with a jar or container.
  • Professional assistance may be necessary for Brown Recluse infestations, while House Spider infestations are generally less urgent.


In conclusion, understanding the key differences between Brown Recluse and House Spiders is crucial for ensuring safety and effective pest management. The main distinctions between the two species include their physical appearance, habitat preferences, and the medical significance of their bites. By being able to identify these spiders and knowing how to prevent and manage their presence, homeowners can maintain a safer and more comfortable living environment. Additionally, promoting further education and awareness on this topic can help reduce the risk of potential harm from spider bites and encourage more responsible pest control practices.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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