If asked to name all the spiders they are familiar with, most Californians would have a short list: tarantula, black widow, and brown recluse. Tarantulas are well known because of their large, intimidating size and their use in many movies as eight-legged villains. Black widows are very common throughout the state, are potentially dangerous, and are easily identifiable by their shiny black body color and red hourglass on the belly. The brown recluse, however, is an enigma: there are no populations of the brown recluse Loxosceles reclusa, in the state and fewer than 10 verified specimens have been collected over several decades in California. Yet people frequently relate stories in which they or someone they know was supposedly bitten by a brown recluse in California. This publication was written in response to the confusion that exists regarding brown recluse spiders in California. COMMON AND SCIENTIFIC NAMES Over the years, the group of spiders to which the brown recluse belongs has been known by various colloquial names: “violin” spiders, “fiddleback” spiders, “recluse” spiders, and “brown” spiders. Recently the American Arachnological Society chose “recluse spiders” as the official common name for this group. The scientific name for the recluse spider group is Loxosceles (lox-SOS-a-leez). All known members of the group have a scientific name, and the more familiar members of this group also have a common name (e.g., brown recluse, desert recluse, Arizona recluse).