Despite the general image of spiders as avid hunters, brown recluses in recent laboratory tests typically preferred dead prey to live ones. Other species of spiders have been known to scavenge now and then, but the brown recluse may be the first one revealed as primarily a scavenger, says the researcher who performed the experiment.
People generally try to avoid brown recluse spiders because their bites fester into painful sores. Roughly the size of a quarter, these spiders thrive in the south-central United States. When arachnologist Jamel Sandidge of the University of Kansas in Lawrence puts traps in a house, he may collect as many as 1,400 brown recluses in 2 months.