Have you ever wondered what might happen if two different kinds of spiders fought each other? Depending on the types of spiders in question, the results may not be as predictable as you might think. Today, we’ll look specifically at the brown recluse vs. the wolf spider: who will win? What advantages does each spider have over the other? Keep reading to find out!
What You'll Learn Today
What is a Brown Recluse?
The brown recluse is a venomous spider most often found throughout southern and western regions of the United States, though its range has extended northward in recent years. Brown recluses are small to medium-sized, with a body length of around 0.25 inches and a diameter (including legs) of about one inch.
They are distinctive-looking spiders, usually light brown, tan, or yellow in color, with slender legs and a rounded, hairless body. They are sometimes referred to as violin spiders due to the darker brown violin shape on the back of their cephalothorax.
As the name suggests, these spiders are reclusive, preferring to live alone and avoid contact with people. They typically live in caves, in burrows in the ground, under leaves, and in other secluded spots.
Brown recluses sometimes live in houses as well, taking up residence in undisturbed attics, basements, closets, and cardboard boxes. They are not particularly aggressive, as they will usually run away from people and will only bite in self-defense if there are no other means of escape.
Brown recluse bites destroy blood vessels around the site of the bite, often causing the skin cells to die in a wide diameter around the bite itself. If a person is bitten by a brown recluse, the resulting wound may take several months to heal, and in rare cases, the person may even die.
What is a Wolf Spider?
A wolf spider can refer to any of about 2,300 species of medium to large hairy spider. These spiders are found throughout the world but are especially prevalent in North America.
Wolf spiders vary in color and pattern but are usually splotchy or striped in shades of brown, tan, black, gray, orange, or cream. Their bodies and legs are covered in hair, and they have eight eyes arranged in rows of two, two, and four.
Their most distinctive physical feature is the pair of prominent hairy jaws that hang down vertically from the face.
Wolf spiders live on the ground and hunt prey by stalking and catching it rather than building webs. They typically live under leaf litter or other ground debris, and sometimes they will dig shallow burrows in the ground.
Like brown recluses, wolf spiders sometimes make their way into the house and hide out in dark, undisturbed corners of basements, attics, and storage areas. They are also quite shy toward people and will usually run away rather than attempting to attack and bite a threat.
If you do get bitten by a wolf spider, you will feel some localized pain and may notice a bit of swelling, but wolf spider bites are generally harmless. They do have a mild venom which is used to paralyze and liquefy prey insects when hunting, but this venom rarely has any serious effect on people.
Brown Recluse Vs. Wolf Spider: Who Will Win?
A fight between a brown recluse and a wolf spider would be one heck of a show. On the one hand, you have a spider with venom strong enough to slowly kill a human; on the other, you have a large, furry spider that hunts prey in much the same way as wolves do.
So, who would win this battle?
You might assume the recluse would have the edge, but it’s more likely the wolf spider would ultimately come out on top.
Wolf spiders have several advantages: they are stronger, faster, and much larger than brown recluses. What’s more, their venom takes effect much more quickly.
Wolf spiders are expert hunters of all kinds of insects, including other spiders. Their venom, though generally harmless to people, quickly subdues and liquefies the insides of their prey, killing it within minutes in most cases.
If the brown recluse were able to bite first, the wolf spider would eventually die from the venom; but it would not die quickly enough to save the recluse.
The wolf spider would also have the advantage of aggression. Though neither wolf spiders nor recluses are aggressive toward people, wolf spiders can and do behave much more aggressively toward insects–particularly those they regard as their next meal.
So, in all likelihood, the wolf spider would be the one to initiate the fight, putting the recluse on the defensive from the beginning.
The wolf spider would use its superior speed and strength to pounce on the recluse and hold it down, then deliver a killing shot of its venom.
The recluse would try to fight back but would be no match for the wolf spider; its strength would quickly fade as the venom coursed through its body. The recluse would most likely die within several minutes.
Check out this video to see an actual fight between a brown recluse and a wolf spider:
Brown recluses and wolf spiders are both venomous arachnids. Though a brown recluse bite is far more harmful to a human than a wolf spider bite, the wolf spider’s venom works much more quickly and effectively against prey insects.
For this reason, as well as strength, size, and behavioral advantages, it is almost certain that a wolf spider would defeat and kill a brown recluse in a fight.