The brown recluse is all-brown with a violin shape on its back, while the house spider is brown with stripes on its cephalothorax and a zigzag pattern on its abdomen.
The brown recluse also doesn’t have hairs and is not likely to create webs, and the webs are unorganized while house spider webs are not as messy.
Many people mistake the brown recluse for the house spider because they’re often found hiding in homes, but it’s an important distinction you need to make. The brown recluse bite can be potentially dangerous, so you will need to recognize the spider you have in your room so you can avoid these bites.
Disclaimer: This is information for entertainment and educational purposes only. Do not approach a wild animal and keep your distance. Only professionals should handle wild animals. Seek professional help immediately if you have been bitten or otherwise harmed. Consult your local wildlife authority for the right advice for your situation and locality.
House Spider vs Brown Recluse
|Up to 1/2 inch (13mm)
|Up to 1/2 inch (13mm)
|Commonly found indoors
|Commonly found indoors
|Three brown stripes on cephalothorax,
Zig-zag pattern on abdomen
|Distinctive violin-shaped marking on thorax
|Sheet webs with funnel
|Rarely makes webs
|Shorter legs compared to body
|Longer legs compared to body
|Weak bite and venom, not harmful to humans
|Very potent venom, potentially harmful to humans
Similarities Between House Spider and Brown Recluse
First of all, similarities – is there anything similar that both of these two spider species share?
Both of these spiders will grow to about ½ inch (12 mm) when they are fully adult, which means that they can easily be confused because they are of a very similar size. Females of the Tegenaria spider also tend to be larger than males.
At first sight, you won’t be able to tell that much of a difference if you’re only judging these two by their size. So always make sure to check the coloration of the two and the markings before you come to any conclusions.
Another reason why many people might mistake these two spiders is that they live in similar habitats.
Namely, both the brown recluse and the house spider tend to live indoors, where they seek shelter to find some peace. They both want to have peace and will avoid contact with other animals as much as possible, although the brown recluse is even more reclusive, as the name suggests.
The brown recluse might hide below objects and in furniture as well as hidden corners of your home. On the other hand, the house spider will make its web and seek shelter within this web that is aimed to protect it from predators.
Overall, both spiders are quite shy and don’t like to have a lot of contact with humans and other animals, except for when they hunt.
3. General Colors
The general colors of the two spiders are quite similar. They are both brown or slightly brighter, so at first sight, you might confuse the two if you’re not paying close attention.
But once you see the two spiders up close, you’ll be able to tell which spider you’re looking at. The brown recluse is usually all-brown with a violin shape on its back, while the house spider will have markings on its body such as stripes.
It’s important to focus on these differences because the general colors and color patterns are quite similar.
Related Article: Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?
Differences Between House Spider and Brown Recluse
Related Article: What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat?
Let’s now focus on the differences between these two spiders.
As we’ve already mentioned, there is a major difference in how these two have their markings on their body.
First of all, the brown recluse will not have nearly as many markings as the house spider. It is usually all-brown with a violin shape on its back, which is the only notable visual marking you might be able to see.
The house spider has many more markings, on the other hand. Pay attention specifically to its cephalothorax, where it should have three brown stripes. Additionally, it will also have a zigzag pattern on its abdomen, which will allow you to spot the difference between the two.
Another difference is the webs that these two spiders make. Usually, house spiders make sheet webs with a funnel at the end where they will hide, so if you see those types of webs all over your home, you’re usually looking at a house spider.
On the other hand, the brown recluse will not make as many webs because it doesn’t use webs to hunt its prey. It prefers to hunt at night and it is looking to ambush its prey by surprising it, so it won’t be able to use its web for hunting.
However, the brown recluse will still make webs, although they will appear messy and unorganized, which, compared to the web of a house spider, will look like a mess.
Related Article: What Do House Spiders Eat?
3. Leg Size
A crucial visual difference between these two species is that brown recluse spiders have much longer legs than house spiders. You might want to use this cue to find the differences between these spiders and to learn which one you’re looking at.
The brown recluse will use its legs when it has to chase another animal of prey. It needs to be fast, so it will have to scale different types of habitats to reach their prey, so they can outrun it, too.
Which is More Venomous?
The brown recluse is more venomous than the house spider. Some brown recluse bites can cause serious damage to humans.
The most common symptoms of a brown recluse bite include fever, chills, nausea, joint pain, weakness, pain or redness at the bite area, and in most severe cases, coma or seizures.
On the other hand, the house spider is not nearly as venomous as the brown recluse. The bite of the house spider might not even break the skin of a human being, so you’re probably not going to sense any symptoms – or at most, pain and redness at the bite area.
Because of this difference in potency of their venom, you will want to recognize the differences between the two animals as quickly as possible. This will help you avoid getting bitten by the brown recluse if you don’t want to touch it.
The main difference between a brown recluse and a house spider is the colors and the markings. The brown recluse is usually all-brown, while the house spider has some markings and differences in coloration on its body. Use this cue to help you spot the difference between the two spider species.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.