Spiders Slideshow: Black Widow vs Brown Recluse

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD on Friday, July 29, 2011

Black Widow Spider (left) and Brown Recluse Spider (right).

Black Widow Spider (left) and Brown Recluse Spider (right).

One of the dangers of a black widow spider bite is its effects on the nervous system.

One of the dangers of a black widow<br /> spider bite is its effects on the nervous system.

Victims can suffer various symptoms from a black widow bite.

Victims can suffer various symptoms from a black widow bite.

The brown recluse venom is extremely poisonous, even more potent than that of a rattlesnake.

The brown recluse venom is extremely poisonous, even more potent than that of a rattlesnake.

Symptoms for a brown recluse bite usually develop two to eight hours after a bite.

Symptoms for a brown recluse bite usually develop two to eight hours after a bite.

The black widow name is derived from the mistaken belief that the female invariably kills the male after mating.

The black widow name is derived from the mistaken belief that the female invariably kills the male after mating.

The southern black widow spider is characterized by its distinctive red hour glass marking.

The southern black widow spider is characterized by its distinctive red hour glass marking.

The northern black widow spider is recognized by its row of red spots (upper surface) and two crosswise bars (undersurface).

The northern black widow spider is recognized by its row of red spots (upper surface) and two crosswise bars (undersurface).

Brown recluse spiders are native to the Midwestern and Southeastern states.

Brown recluse spiders are native to the Midwestern and Southeastern states.

Non-brown recluse spider

Non-brown recluse spider

Brown recluse spiders are notable for their characteristic violin pattern on the back.

Brown recluse spiders are notable for their characteristic violin pattern on the back.

Male & female black widow spider with egg sac.

Male & female black widow spider with egg sac.

Brown recluse spiders are not aggressive and bite only when threatened.

Brown Recluse Spider

The initial bite of a black widow spider may only show a minimal local reaction.

The initial bite of a black widow spider may only show a minimal local reaction.

Progression of a back widow spider bite several hours after (left) to several days after (right) the initial bite.

Example of a back widow spider bite several hours (left) to several days later (right).








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Example of a brown recluse spider bite three days after the bite.

Example of a brown recluse spider bite nine days after the bite.

Example of a brown recluse spider bite 38 days after the bite.

Example of a brown recluse spider bite 10 months after the bite.

Seek emergency medical care for serious reactions to black widow spider bites.

Home treatment for minor pain includes hot baths, which can help after a black widow bite because the pain is due primarily to muscle spasm.

Brown recluse bite victims should seek medical care the same day.

Home first aid care is simple for a brown recluse bite but should not replace a visit to a doctor or emergency department.

Ultimately, be cautious of both spiders and seek medical care if bitten!

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