Brown Recluse Or Wolf Spider?

For those living in spider infested areas, the first thing that comes to mind when we see a spider is, “It’s gonna kill me!” The reality is that most spiders can’t kill you. One of the common venomous spiders around is the brown recluse. This spider is easily confused with the wolf spider, but we are here today to make sure you know just what kind of pest you’re dealing with.

Physical Differences

Cornered Wolf Spider
Wolf Spider
Brown Recluse
Brown Recluse Spider

Their Basic Stuff

These spiders differ substantially in size and color. Measuring from ½ an inch to 2 inches in length, the wolf spider is much larger and more robust than the brown recluse which measures from a ¼ to ¾ of an inch. The wolf spider is also a darker shade of brown and gray, with tan and a mixture of colors and markings, while the brown recluse is one solid color either a light brown or tan. The legs will sometimes be a little lighter than the body, but in general the same color.

Brown recluse spiders are some of the few species to have only six eyes, seeing as the wolf spider has eight. The brown recluse has 3 pairs arranged laterally and the wolf spider has 3 rows of eyes in the center of its head. Shining a flashlight on the eyes of a wolf spider will cause a glow, which is a great identifying trait. This trait is a quick go to for identify the arachnids.

The Dark Mark

Their main physical difference is the violin shape on the brown recluse’s cephalothorax. Both these spiders are made of two principle body parts. The cephalothorax is the head part where the legs actually extend out from. The abdomen is the bottom “butt” part. The brown recluse has the violin marking on its cephalothorax and the wolf spider has random lines and marks on its abdomen, causing easy confusion with the spiders’ marks.

Other Fun Facts Between Friends

Using its great eyesight the wolf spider is a good and agile hunter. The brown recluse uses webs to hunt. They both like to hide out in garages, basements, and other dark and dry places. Neither of these guys are aggressive, but in contrast both are shy and will only bite if disturbed. Another tip for easy detection of a wolf spider is to check out its back carefully. Wolf spiders carry their spiderlings on their backs until the little guys are ready to hit the big world on their own.

While the wolf spider may be scary looking, it is definitely not as dangerous as the brown recluse. The brown recluse has an extremely poisonous bite and has been known to cause severe reactions in people. So if you’ve identified a brown recluse keep your distance and an eye on it. If either of these two species of crawlers is too much for you too handle be sure to call the spider control guys at Bulwark Exterminating.

Brown Recluse vs Wolf Spider

Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse

Wolf Spider

Wolf spider

¼ to ¾ inches ½ to 2 inches
6 eyes 8 eyes
Uniform brown color Various tan, brown, gray colors
Smaller, thinner Large, robust
Poisonous bite; may be severe Bite is non-threatening, may cause slight reaction
Has violin-shaped mark on cephalothorax Spiderlings commonly on back (abdomen)
Builds webs for prey Hunts for prey without webs
Found from central Texas to Georgia, and Nebraska to Indiana, including Kentucky and Ohio. Everywhere except the North Pole Area including most of Greenland, Northern Russia, and North Alaska.

Guide To Identifying A Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Infographic


Anthony Ball is a Content Marketing Manager with Bulwark Exterminating, an industry leader in providing high quality pest control service. Bulwark is fully operational in nine states, including thirteen major cities. While Bulwark provides pest extermination for common pests like ants, roaches, crickets and spiders; the company's differentiating aspect is great personalized service. Bulwark uses the finest and most effective products in the world to solve common pest problems.

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4 thoughts on “Brown Recluse Or Wolf Spider?

  1. Hi ,Heydi Ruelas

    As these pests are really harmful we should always look for a safety measure to keep these things away from our children. Even termites are also dangerous as they eat up our wooden structures and make them weak.

  2. Thanks, this is well written and I love the differentiation charts with pictures. I have forwarded your link to some of my clients because everyone always thinks it was a brown recluse that bit them!

  3. Hello,I check your blogs named “Brown Recluse Or Wolf Spider? | Pest Control and Bug Exterminator Blog” on a regular basis.Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing! And you can look our website about powerful love spells.

  4. Thank you for this so very much. I tend to have bad reactions to any spider bites and just had a large dark brown spider crawl out of an AC vent. Scared the life out of me, got a picture of it trying to see it closer, before I managed to squish it with a shoe. I was terrified that it may be a recluse and I’d spend six months paranoid of another showing up on me. Your post here confirmed for me it was just a wolf spider and I won’t have to worry so much.

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