There are around 100 identified species of recluse spiders to date in the world. The brown recluse spider is uncommon in Ontari, but has been spotted in the province sporadically. Ontario’s climate does not provide a habitable environment for the brown recluse spider specie, and any rare appearances of the potent spider here, is likely due to accidently travel to Ontario from the Central and Southern parts of the USA.

The brown recluse spider (Loxosceles spp) earned its name because of its brown color and antisocial behavior. While poisonous, these spiders are typically not aggressive, and prefer to be left alone in solitude.  They possess a powerful, tissue-destroying venom, which can cause lesions on a person post bite.

The brown recluse spider is ½ inch long, with light brown colouring and 6 eyes. It’s distinguishing marking is a violin-shaped shape on its mid-section (or thorax). They produce sticky, haphazard webbing that they use for shelter only. The brown recluse spider hunts for its food, mostly at night. They eat small insects, other spiders, cockroaches, crickets and even ants.

A brown recluse spider

Once they have invaded a home, they favour tight spaces, and keep hidden.  Adults may be found in dark, secluded indoor places that are dry, cluttered, undisturbed and contain a supply of insects for food. Common places they inhabit are behind baseboards, under tables and chairs, in basements, crawlspaces, attics, garages and sheds, and within clothing or shoes that are left hanging undisturbed for some time. They have also been found in the linens of beds that have been unoccupied for a long while.

The brown recluse spider will bite if it comes into direct contact with a human. Common situations where brown recluse spider bites occurred include mistakenly rolling on them in a bed, coming into direct contact with one when clothing or shoes they inhabit is put on, or accidently touching them while cleaning out storage and gardening areas.

If bitten, seek immediate medical treatment. The reaction experienced by a person depends on the amount of venom injected into the person when bitten, as well as the person’s own sensitivity to it. A brown recluse spider bite is rarely fatal, but is very serious as their venom is cytotoxic, which means that it attacks the cells of human flesh and produces necrosis. Their bite is often not felt at first. Usually within an hour of being bitten, a person experiences a stinging sensation followed by sharp pain. The bite area develops a white blister, which grows larger as the flesh is destroyed, and leaves a sunken, inflamed sore. 


Brown recluse spiders are not common in Ontario, however there have been encounters, and reported bites. If you think that you have a possible infestation or have crossed paths with a brown recluse spider, do not attempt to handle this pest issue on your own. DIY pest control is not always safe or effective. Contact a trained and licensed pest control professional.

To minimize chances of being bitten if there are known brown recluse spiders, take additional precaution by:

  • Shaking out any unworn clothing or shoes before wearing
  • Shaking out sheets or towels if not used recently or temporarily stored away before using
  • Inspecting bed linens on unused beds
  • Wearing protective leather gloves if you must work around potential habitats like basements and crawlspaces.

While the chances are low that you will cross paths with a brown recluse spider in Ontario, spider prevention is the best approach to take to minimize any chances of an infestation.

Here are tips to prevent a spider infestation:

  • Keep your home or business clean and sanitary on a regular basis to prevent insects and other spiders from coming in.
  • Seal cracks and crevices focusing on and around foundations, doors, windows and other entry points.
  • Repair broken screens and weather stripping.
  • Manage humidity levels inside the home, especially in the basement with a dehumidifier.
  • Regularly vacuum under furniture, along baseboards, moldings and in floor cracks.
  • Keep the perimeter of your home clean and free of debris.
  • Keep garbage tightly sealed and store it away from the home’s exterior.
  • Regularly maintain gardens, trees and shrubbery around the home’s exterior to prevent overgrowth and minimize nesting or hiding places for spiders and their prey.
  • Use yellow colour light bulbs outdoors, which has been known to deter certain insects and certain spiders.

If you have a brown recluse spider infestation or think you may have one, contact a licensed pest control company so they can help you safely treat the problem. 

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