Written by 19:57 Arachnids

Wolf Spiders vs Brown Recluse Spiders: What’s the Difference?

wolf spider brown recluse

When it comes to spiders, there are several types of species that inhabit our world with their own unique characteristics and behaviors. There are two spider species: wolf spider brown recluse spiders that might have captured your attention. While both spiders can be found in various parts of the world, they possess distinct features that set them apart. Here we will be exploring their physical attributes, habitats, behaviors and most importantly how different these two are. Let’s get into the blog. 


When it comes to appearance, wolf spider brown recluse spiders have distinct characteristics that can help you to differentiate them:


Wolf spiders

They are known for their robust and agile bodies. They are typically larger than brown recluse spiders with a leg span ranging from 1 to 3 inches. One of the key features of wolf spiders is their hairy appearance. Their bodies are often covered in dense hair which assists in their protection. These spiders have eight eyes arranged in three rows.

The two large eyes in the center row give them excellent vision especially during night-time hunting.  Their eyes reflect light, creating a distinct eye shine effect when illuminated. Wolf spiders come in a variety of colors and patterns depending on the species and their environment. They can range from grayish brown to dark brown with some species exhibiting stripes or markings on their bodies and legs. 

Brown Recluse Spiders

They are relatively smaller with a leg span of about 0.5 to 1 inch. They have violin shaped markings on their cephalothorax which is why sometimes they are referred to as violin spiders. This marking is not always easy to see so it’s important to rely on other characteristics for identification.

Brown recluse spiders have six eyes arranged in pairs rather than three rows. This feature can be helpful in differentiating other spider species. Brown recluse spiders have a uniform brown color ranging from light tan to dark brown. Their bodies are smooth and lack the dense hair found on wolf spiders. 


We can say the behavior of wolf spiders brown recluse spiders differs in terms of hunting, web building and activity levels. There are the following comparison aspects of the behavior of these two spider species:

wolf spider brown recluse

Wolf Spiders

They are known for their hunting behavior. They are agile and fast runners relying on their excellent eyesight to spot and chase down their prey. Wolf spiders don’t build elaborate webs to catch prey. They actively search for their food on the ground or in low vegetation. These spiders are nocturnal, preferring to hunt during night. 

They seek shelter in burrows or under rocks, logs or leaf litter. Wolf spiders are capable of climbing, allowing them to inhabit a wide range of habitats including forests, grasslands, deserts and human homes. 

Brown Recluse Spiders

Their name suggests they are reclusive creatures. They prefer to hide in undisturbed areas such as attics, basements, closets and dark corners. These spiders are not aggressive and usually try to avoid contact with humans. Brown recluse spiders are not active hunters. They build irregular, tangled webs in sheltered areas. These webs are often constructed to ground and may have characteristic funnel shape. While brown recluse spiders do possess venom, they are not known to be aggressive biters but they usually occur when the spider feels threatened or trapped. 


Both spiders have venom with different properties and their effects on humans can vary. Here are the following differences:

wolf spider brown recluse

Wolf spider venom

It is generally considered of low toxicity to humans because it is used to immobilize their prey and not potent enough to cause harm to humans. If a wolf spider bites a human then typical symptoms include localized pain, redness and swelling at the bite site. These are the same symptoms to the effects of a bee or wasp sting. 

Brown Recluse Spider Venom

They are known for having venom that can potentially cause necrotic wounds. This is one of the distinctive features of their venom. They can result in ulceration and tissue damage around the bite site. These bits cause symptoms including fever, chills, nausea and muscle pain.  Their reactions are rare. It’s important to note that not all brown recluse spider bites result from these symptoms. Many bites cause only mild, localized symptoms such as redness, pain and swelling. 


wolf spider brown recluse

Wolf Spiders habitat

Wolf spider habitats are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats. They are commonly found in grasslands, forests, meadows and even urban environments. These spiders are known for their ability to burrow and seek shelter in leaf litter, rock and underground tunnels. They are often found in areas with dense vegetation or near water sources. 

Wolf spiders have adapted to different climates and can be found in both temperate and tropical regions. They are active hunters and tend to inhabit areas where they have easy access to their prey. 

Brown Recluse Spiders

They are primarily found in central and southern regions of the United States. They prefer warm and dry environments and you may come across these in states such as Texas, Kansas and Missouri. They are known to inhabit undisturbed areas such as basements, attics, closets, sheds and dark corners of buildings. 

These spiders are found in central and southern regions of the United States. They prefer warm and dry environments such as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. They are often found in cluttered or undisturbed areas with minimal human activity. It’s important to take measures to minimize their presence in your living spaces and maintain a clean environment. 

Interesting Topics: Lifespan of Banana Spider In Florida

Final thoughts

These are the prominent differences of wolf spider brown recluse spiders such as appearance, behavior, venom and habitats. They can be found in central and southern regions of the United States inhibiting warm and dry environments such as attics, basements and closets.

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