Wolf Spider vs. Brown Recluse

Wolf spider on red and grey rock

The 4 Key Things to Know

Many different types of spiders live in Texas. The brown recluse and the wolf spider are two more commonly known species often confused one for the other. 

While these two spiders may look similar at first glance, they have some key differences, including the threat they pose to humans

Here are four things to know about brown recluses vs. wolf spiders:

Physical Features

Brown recluses are brown, while wolf spiders can be brown, black, or gray. The brown recluse is smaller and has six eyes. The wolf spider has eight eyes and is considerably larger.

One of the key differences between brown recluses and wolf spiders is the brown recluse’s violin-shaped mark on its back. Wolf spiders do not have this marking, making them easy to distinguish from brown recluses.


Brown recluses are shy and will often flee when disturbed, hence the name, “recluse.” Wolf spiders are more aggressive and will attack if provoked. They hunt and pounce like wolves. Brown recluses are more likely to live near humans, which means more chances of getting bitten. 

Wolf spiders do not spin webs, but brown recluses will build webs to catch their prey. Wolf spiders are also more likely to be seen out during the day, while brown recluses are nocturnal.


The brown recluse is more venomous than the wolf spider. A brown recluse bite can cause severe health problems in humans, including necrosis (tissue death). If you believe you have been bit by a brown recluse, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Signs it might be a brown recluse that bit you include a brown or blackish mark on your skin with a raised, red area around it.

The wolf spider’s venom is not as harmful to humans but can still cause swelling, redness, and pain. If a wolf spider bites you, you may experience redness, swelling, and itching at the site of the bite. However, these symptoms should subside within a few days.

A wolf spider bite could cause a more serious reaction if you are allergic to insect venom.


Brown recluses are typically found in dark, sheltered areas like garages, closets, and attics. They like to hide in clothing or shoes and can be brought into homes on these items. 

Wolf spiders, on the other hand, prefer to live outdoors. They are often found in wooded areas or near streams and ponds. Wolf spiders are found worldwide, whereas the brown recluse is generally found only in the southern and midwestern US.

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