Many spiders live around homes and buildings. Most are harmless and in fact are beneficial because they prey upon flies, crickets and other nuisance insects.
One spider that is potentially dangerous is the brown recluse, sometimes referred to as the violin, or fiddleback spider because of the violin-shaped markings on its dorsum. Although bites are rare, the venom can cause serious wounds and infestations should be taken seriously.
Though variable in size, adult brown recluse spiders with legs extended are about the size of a US quarter. Coloration ranges from tan to dark brown, and the abdoman and legs are uniformly colored with no stripes, bands or mottling. The legs are long and thin and lack conspicuous spines. For lay persons, the most distinguishing feature is a dark violin shaped mark on its back. This feature is consistent in adult brown recluses, but sometimes less obvious in younger spiders.
In nature, brown recluse spiders live outdoors under rocks, logs, wood piles and debris. The spider is also well adapted to living indoors with humans. They are resilient enough to withstand winters in unheated basements and stifling summer temperatures in attics, persisting for long periods without food and water. It hunts the night seeking insect prey, either alive or dead.