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Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa): Brown recluse spiders belong to a group of spiders commonly known as violin spiders or fiddlebacks, because of a characteristic fiddle-shaped pattern on their head region. The brown recluse is golden brown with a dark brown or black "fiddle," which is often shiny. They range from 5-15 mm (1/4 to 3/4 inch) long. Brown recluse spiders are found primarily in the South and Midwest. They are rarely, if ever, found in Rhode Island. Brown recluse spiders live in basements and garages of houses, often hiding behind boards and boxes. Bites sometimes occur when the spiders hide in towels or clothing. They are seldom aggressive and bite only when threatened or injured.
Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans): Like the brown recluse, black widow spiders are not generally found in Rhode Island, except when brought here by travelers. The female is usually black with a red spot or hourglass-shaped mark on its round abdomen. The male usually has light streaks on its abdomen. The spider is about 38 mm (1 1/2 inches) in diameter, including legs. In infested areas, black widow spiders are common around wood piles, and are frequently encountered when homeowners carry firewood into the house. They are found under eaves, in boxes, outdoor toilets, meter boxes and other undisturbed places. The female black widow occasionally eats the male after mating (hence the name). She hangs belly-upward and rarely leaves the web. The black widow is not aggressive, but it will bite instinctively when touched or pressed. Be very careful when working around areas where black widow spiders may be established. Wear gloves and pay attention to where you are working. Black widow bites are sharp and painful, and the victim should seek medical attention immediately.