One of the most infamous spiders in the U.S. is the Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa). Also known as the Violin Spider for the patterns on the cephalothorax, these arachnids possess strong venom, and bites are very painful. The venom sometimes even causes the skin around the bite to rot.
A Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa).
There are many spiders that look similar to the Brown Recluse, causing harmless spiders to be confused with the recluse. One such spider is the Brown Spitting Spider (Scytodes fusca). These small, harmless, slow moving spiders are brown in color and share the same natural range as the recluse, but they can be identified by their trademark large, dome-shaped cephalothorax.
A Brown Spitting Spider (Scytodes fusca) with egg sac. Notice the dome-shaped abdomen and the 3 sets of 2 eyes.
Another similar spider is the Wolf Spider (Lycosidae sp.). There are many species of Wolf Spider, most being a brownish color. They are very fast and some can get quite large. Their bites are mildly painful, about that of a bee sting, but they are not aggressive and are usually docile. The best way to identify a Wolf Spider is to look for the large front facing pair of eyes.
A large adult female Wolf Spider (Tigrosa cf. helluo). Note the large front facing eyes.
There are many, many brown colored spiders out there, but it isn’t possible for me to name all of them here. Those listed are just a couple of the most commonly mistaken for Brown Recluses. Remember: Just because its a brown spider doesn’t mean that its a Brown Recluse! If you find a spider that you would like identified, just send a few good pictures of it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as soon as I can!