What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat?

Brown recluse spiders eat insects like cockroaches, crickets, flies, moths, and others, and they also eat other brown recluse spiders as they are known for being cannibalistic. They’ll also eat almost any bug or insect that is smaller than them, as well as some larger animals.

What Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat

Brown recluses are hunting spiders. They are known for being active mostly at night, but they can also hunt during the day. Brown recluses are very good at surprising their prey as they ambush it. Sometimes, they will also chase down their prey if they can’t surprise it, thanks to their fast traveling speeds.

Foods that Brown Recluse Spiders Eat

These are the most common types of food that brown recluse spiders eat.

1. Insects

Like with the vast majority of other hunting spiders, insects will be the main type of food for brown recluse spiders as well.

They prefer to eat soft-skinned insects that are not that hard to hunt or break down. These insects have soft shells, which makes them easier to digest for the brown recluse. Most of the digestion will be done with the enzymes that it uses when it paralyzes the insect or kills it with venom.

Brown recluses will hunt both small and large insects, but they mostly prefer crawling insects because they’re slightly easier to catch.

Some of the most commonly eaten insects include:

  • Cockroaches – this is perhaps the most preferred type of food for brown recluse spiders. This is because cockroaches are a good source of protein for the spider and can keep them satiated for several days or even weeks.
  • Crickets – crickets are also highly popular for brown recluse spiders. They are quite easy to catch and they don’t offer too much resistance. They’re also abundant in habitats where brown recluses live.
  • Flies – even though flies might be slightly harder to catch, brown recluse spiders still eat them. They prefer to catch them when the flies are stationary, which makes them a bit easier to find.
  • Moths – moths are active mostly at night, which is also when brown recluses remain highly active. And if they find the chance to strike, the brown recluse will waste no time to catch a moth.
  • Ants – ants are also high on the popularity list for brown recluse spiders. They’re quite easy to catch, even though they might only be enough for a small and quick snack.

2. Small Bugs

Brown recluse spiders will pretty much eat anything that crawls and is smaller than them. This includes all types of bugs, including smaller bugs.

They like to eat small bugs because they’re quite easy to catch, and they don’t offer much resistance. They’re also a good source of nutrients for the brown recluse. Bugs are one of the most widely preferred types of foods for brown recluses.

3. Other Brown Recluses

Yes, brown recluses are known very well for their cannibalism. They will sometimes consume and attack other members of the brown recluse family, which is particularly common if no other foods are around.

Brown recluses are also highly competitive. Larger brown recluse spiders will usually go after smaller members of the same family. The rule of the stronger is prevalent in the world of brown recluses.

If you were to put a brown recuse next to a smaller brown recluse, it would not waste much time in getting the smaller brown recluse into its belly. So if you’re planning to own several brown recluse spiders – beware!

Related Article: Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

4. Other Spiders

Brown recluse spiders are also known for eating other spiders as well. The venom of the brown recluse is one of the most potent ones out there, so it has the potential to kill the majority of other spiders.

A brown recluse might hunt smaller spiders, in particular. As we’ve already mentioned, it is a very proficient hunter so it will not waste any time in finding all types of prey around them and eating it.

To catch another spider, they will use the technique of surprise. They will hide near the burrow or web of another spider and surprise it when it comes out, giving the defending spider almost no chance of defending the attack.

4 Spiders that look like Brown Recluse spiders

5. Larger Animals

Sometimes, the brown recluse might go after slightly larger animals, which includes mainly frogs and lizards. These animals are a good source of food for them because they have potent enough venom to paralyze these larger animals as well.

To catch larger animals, the brown recluse will use different tactics. It will try to insert the venom as quickly as possible, which would keep the target unable to move or defend. Then, once the venom does its magic, the spider will drag the body of the animal away to near its nest and complete the consummation there.


Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat Other Spiders?

Yes, brown recluse spiders will eat other spiders as well. They have a strong venom and they’re larger than most spiders, allowing them to catch smaller spiders in particular and eat them.

Brown recluses are proficient hunters, so they will waste no time in hunting another animal if the opportunity presents itself to the brown recluse. Sometimes, the brown recluse even eats members of the same family, as they become highly competitive against smaller spiders in particular.

Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat Ants?

Brown recluse spiders will also eat ants. They like to hunt ants because they’re not that hard to catch, and they present a good source of food to them as well.

For catching ants, they might be able to hunt them down with their fast legs, or surprise them and kill them at once. Ants would likely die because of the strike of the spider, although if needed, the brown recluse will also use its venom to kill off the ant.


Brown recluse spiders are one of the most venomous spider species in the world. It is a very feared spider in the southeastern part of the United States.

Luckily, the spider does not willingly attack humans, but only if it is threatened. It has many other types of food that it will eat, so it should be able to survive quite easily in nature.

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