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Do Wolf Spiders Eat Brown Recluse? (Explained)

Wolf spiders are tenacious hunters that will actively hunt invertebrates their own size with utmost aggression. A newborn baby mouse is not safe from a wolf spider either.

They look the scariest but are timid, they are relatively scared of us humans and will actively avoid us. On the other hand, the brown recluse will seem the most harmless due to their body being a simple color and having no hair/fur like the wolf spider.

Wolf spiders can be intimidating critters while being harmless. Then there’s the brown recluse spider that might seem harmless but can be a real danger to us.

Let us take an in-depth look at why these spiders are enemies to each other and how to avoid them if we find ourselves in the midst of any of them.

Do wolf spiders eat brown recluse?

Wolf spiders do indeed eat brown recluse. This is not a common thing to happen though. The wolf spiders do not usually eat the brown recluse. It only happens rarely when the wolf spider grows larger than the brown recluse. Then if the food is scarce, the wolf spider will eat brown recluse.

Wolf spiders are active and aggressive hunters that are the most active during nighttime. They live up to their namesake and hunt and stalk their prey mercilessly just like a wolf in the wild.

Having keen eyesight as well as being able to run fast, wolf spiders will locate their prey, pounce on them and use their powerful jaws to bite down on the helpless prey.

Their favorite things to eat are insects and other invertebrates. However, a large wolf spider will not shy away from a small vertebrate if they get the chance.

Wolf spiders will also go after other species of spiders. They don’t even let go of their kind and cannibalism is a common thing among the wolf spiders during copulation.

They will actively attack and eat brown recluse spiders. However, this is not a common thing to happen as they are reluctant to eat them in the first place. They try to avoid the large adults of the species because of their nasty poison.

Although, if food is scarce the wolf spider will not back down even from a black widow and proceed to hunt their cousins like the brown recluse spider too.

Two reasons why wolf spiders eat brown recluse

The wolf spiders eat a plethora of living things. It doesn’t matter if they are insects, bugs, worms, or other invertebrates.

They will even go after the smaller vertebrates if they get the chance, as they don’t care what they are eating, as long as the size is small and they can grapple onto them.

Let’s look at the reasons why they’d target brown recluse spiders.


One of the main reasons for spiders eating other spiders is their size. This does not happen just between different species of spiders but even in the same species of spiders, the larger females tend to eat their puny males.

It is a common practice by the female that is usually substantially larger than the male. Wolf spiders can be three times the normal size of a brown recluse spider. Thus, they become easy prey for the hunter wolf spider.

Food Scarcity:

A group of jumping spiders from the Portia genus feeds on other spiders. That is not to say that the wolf spider also belongs to that genus. However, they still eat brown recluse spiders or other small spiders.

This is not a common practice for wolf spiders. They only go to such lengths for the basic need of food.

When food is scarce, they will go for their smaller cousins. Dangerous or not they do not care and even go for one of the most poisonous black widow spiders.

What do wolf spiders eat?

Wolf spiders normally eat insects and other invertebrates they can find in the wild. They are solitary creatures and only come in contact with other wolf spiders during the mating season. Sometimes the female wolf spiders can reach large proportions.

These females sometimes enrich their platter by dining on very small vertebrates like tiny birds, tiny amphibians as well as tiny lizards. They even sometimes go for insects that are larger than them.

The rule of thumb is that since they do not eat much often, they feed themselves half their body size.


This group contains the favorites of their platter. Insects such as butterflies, cockroaches, earwigs, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, and ants.


This is rather uncommon for them to dine on, but regardless of how poisonous a black widow or a brown recluse can be, wolf spiders will eat them.

Tiny Birds:

Birds like the hummingbird and the sunbird can be an easy targets for the large female wolf spiders.

Tiny Frogs:

Paedophryne, water frogs as well as some small tree frogs also fall prey to the large wolf spiders.

Tiny Lizards:

Anoles is one of the easy prey of a wolf spider, as well as some of the different variations of the gecko, can fall prey to the large female of the species.


Mealworms are one of the types of worms that wolf spiders will gladly chow down.

Wolf spider vs brown recluse – What is the difference between a wolf spider and a brown recluse?

A wolf spider and a brown recluse are commonly mistaken for each other. Sometimes a brown recluse is mistaken for a wolf spider and sometimes a wolf spider is mistaken for a brown recluse spider.

This is because of their similarities. There are also other common spiders like the house spider, yellow sac spider, and also cellar spider that are confused with the brown recluse spider.

Here are some of the ways we can tell the difference between a brown recluse spider and a wolf spider.


Brown recluse spiders have this one uniform color grading on their entire body while the wolf spiders typically have multi-color going through their body and legs.


One of the telltale features of a brown recluse spider is the violin-shaped mark behind its eyes. But the wolf spider has a pattern on its back with multiple colors, commonly stripes.


Wolf spiders have easily distinguishable hair/fur on their body while the brown recluse has none whatsoever and is hairless.


The brown recluse spider is about three times smaller than the wolf spider. The wolf spider is much larger than their similar-looking cousins. This is one of the main reasons, wolf spiders hunt brown recluse spiders.

What time of year do brown recluses come out?

Brown recluse spiders are hunter spiders. They like nothing more than hunting for food. The primary food palate of these critters is insects and bugs. These spiders also like places that are warmer and cozier.

Therefore, the recluse spider thinks of our homesteads as prime hunting grounds. Because these places are sources of cockroaches, firebrats, silverfish, crickets, and many more.

During the warmer months of the year, this spider comes out and is the most active. The peak season for them is between the months of March and October.

Trying to control them from October through March is not really necessary or even useful, to begin with, due to the lack of them. Normally this is true for other spiders too.

What will repel brown recluse?

We can easily take the advantage of the spider’s acute senses. Brown recluses just like any spider out there don’t like the smell of strong scents. Eucalyptus for one is a great example of strong-smelling flowers.

Place these near window sills or other potential entry points will easily repel the brown recluse spiders and as a bonus will leave your home smelling fresh.

You can also make DIY spray bottles of peppermint oil that apparently works great in deterring brown recluse spiders. It contains a chemical called monoterpenoids. This is a natural fumigant that will keep insects and pests away when sprayed thoroughly.

Lavender and tea tree oil are also known to be effective against them. Use these to spray around the places where you might think the spider would be crawling around.

Final Thoughts

Despite the possibility of getting bitten with a strong poison and the risk of losing their lives, wolf spiders will still hunt down and eat brown recluse spiders. They don’t usually care about what they eat, as long as the size of their prey is 30%-40% smaller than their body size.