The wolf spider is bigger and hairier than a black widow, and it is of gray or brown color. The black widow doesn’t have visible hairs, it’s entirely black with a red hourglass shape on its back and is smaller and more venomous than the wolf spider.
The black widow spider is one of the most venomous spiders in the world. It’s instantly recognizable by its black body and the red hourglass shape on its back.
The wolf spider is one of the most common spiders in North America. It is easily distinguishable by the gray body with hairs.
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.
Black Widow vs Wolf Spider
|Wolf Spider||Black Widow|
|Cannibalizes Own Species||Yes||Yes|
|Diet||Primarily Insects||Primarily Insects|
|Hunting Style||Active Hunter||Catches prey with its web|
|Color and Markings||Greyish brown all over||Black with distinctive red hourglass shape on abdomen|
|Hair||Visible hair on legs and body||No visible hair|
|Size||Up to 2 inches (5cm)||Smaller than 1/2 inch (12mm)|
|Web||Rarely create webs||Messy, unorganized webs|
|Venomosity||Potent venom but usually not fatal for humans||Extremely potent venom that can be fatal for humans.|
In this article, we’re going to take a look at wolf spider vs black widow – the similarities between them, their differences, habitats, and more.
Similarities between the Black Widow and Wolf Spider
First of all, let’s see how black widow spiders and wolf spiders are similar.
There are not that many similarities between those species, so one of the more interesting similarities is their tendency for cannibalism – more specifically, sexual cannibalism.
Males of wolf spiders are often victims of female wolf spiders after mating. This does not always happen, but it’s a fairly common occurrence.
Female wolf spiders will consume male wolf spiders after mating, which is meant to give them crucial nutrients for their survival and to allow them to feed their offspring.
Female wolf spiders are usually larger than male wolf spiders. The size difference allows females to topple male wolf spiders easily, although males will resist this behavior.
Most of the time, males will try to hide when they are attacked by the females after mating.
The same type of behavior is also noted with black widow spiders. The prevalence of eating their sexual partners after mating has given these spiders the name of black widow, or widow spiders.
For black widows, females will also consume their male counterparts after mating. This is perhaps one of the most interesting similarities between these two species that we can observe.
Wolf spiders and black widows both have an insect-heavy diet, while both can also eat larger invertebrates. Black widows have a potent venom, which will be effective even against larger prey.
Wolf spiders, on the other hand, are exceptional hunters. They have good eyesight and they also have hairs on their legs, which give them a crucial advantage.
Both eat insects primarily, but the way they do that is slightly different, with wolf spiders taking on a more active hunting role compared to black widows.
Differences Between the Black Widow and Wolf Spider
Let’s discuss the many differences between black widow spiders and wolf spiders.
1. Appearance and Colors
The most obvious difference between wolf spiders and black widows will be their general appearance.
Some of the main differences in terms of appearance between these two animals include:
- Color: Black widow spiders are entirely black with a red hourglass shape on their back. Wolf spiders are gray-to-brown.
- Hairs: Black widows have little to no hairs, while wolf spiders have hairs on their cephalothorax, abdomen, and their legs.
- Patterns on the body: Another notable difference is the patterns they have on their bodies. Black widows have a red hourglass shape on their abdomen, while wolf spiders have two black stripes on their cephalothorax and three smaller stripes on their abdomen.
- Thickness: In general, wolf spiders appear to be much thicker in appearance, especially in their legs.
Wolf spiders are much larger than the black widow – sometimes even twice the size of a black widow spider. Some wolf spiders might reach the size of over two inches, while black widow spiders will not even reach the size of half an inch.
For that reason, you will be able to spot the wolf spider quite easily, while the black widow appears to be a bit more elusive to spot due to its miniature size.
3. Web-Making and Behavior
Wolf spiders and black widows hunt very differently. Black widows tend to create messy, unorganized webs that you might find in hidden corners of your home, while wolf spiders do not create large webs as traps, but use their silk to help them get around.
Another thing to note is their behavior. Black widows don’t like to come out of hiding while wolf spiders are predators, so they might stalk their prey.
They are also opportunists as they look to pounce on their prey while leaving it unprepared and unable to defend properly against their attacks.
Which is More Venomous – Wolf Spider or Black Widow?
The black widow is more venomous than the wolf spider, and its bite can cause significant problems even for humans.
However, the black widow bite is rarely fatal. In 98% of the black widow bites, the symptoms tend to go away on their own, although they might have some serious adverse effects such as:
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Nausea, vomiting
- Severe belly, back, or chest pain
- Restlessness, stupor
- Chills and fever
All of these symptoms will go away if they are treated quickly by visiting the doctor. While they may disappear on their own, they will take much longer to do so without medication. Very rarely, black widow bites can be fatal, most often for babies and the elderly.
Wolf spider bites, on the other hand, are usually not as harmful. Most bite victims experience some nausea or dizziness, but the effects are less severe than with a black widow bite.
Major complications may arise if one is allergic to spider or bug bites, in which case, you should seek the help of a doctor immediately.
If you’re suffering from a spider bite, please consult a medical professional. This website is for entertainment only. We’re not medical professionals and you shouldn’t use this site to try to identify or diagnose any spider or spider bite.
The wolf spider and the black widow spider are very different spider species. Wolf spiders are larger and have more hairs than black widows, but the black widow is potentially more harmful and is also more venomous than the wolf spider.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.