1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

black widow vs brown recluse

Discussion in 'True Spiders & Other Arachnids' started by ilovebugs, Jun 25, 2005.

  1. ilovebugs

    ilovebugs Arachnobaron Old Timer

    ok, so my girlfriends brother and I just found a full size brown recluse in my den (found one in my bedroom last night) we were talking about them and looking at bite pics on google. then we started talking about black widows, there are only a few bite pics on google that I saw. so we were wondering. which is worse?

    black widows can be deadly in some cases right? the bite pics didn't look near as bad as the BR. I know brown recluses can rot a pound of flesh pretty quickly.

    ok, so lemme see what you got.
  2. Malhavoc's

    Malhavoc's Arachnoking Old Timer

    I thought that any or most of the pics involving BR were faked/due to something else?
  3. Ravienne

    Ravienne Arachnopeon

    I've heard that recluse venom is more a local tissue damage/infection issue, whereas widow venom is geared more towards getting you sick. I don't really have any hard evidence or sources to back that up, it's more just hearsay and extrapolation. Black widows are supposedly able to kill a person, but I suspect you would have to already be pretty young or weak or elderly. I'd bet that a full grown, healthy person would be able to survive a bite without any permanent symptoms, but it would probably make them very sick for at least a day or two. Like I said, I don't have any real evidence for this; it's mostly just impressions I've picked up. Others here who have actually worked with the spiders could give much more accurate info.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2005
  4. Malhavoc's

    Malhavoc's Arachnoking Old Timer

    Well my understanding is the widows effect your nerves giving you heart/respitory problems/muscle spasms where as the recluse is more like a digestive nacrotic venom that simply kills everything from the bite out I know there was a discussion on this not to long ago. Try searching for it they go into the most deadly and what have you in very good deapth.
  5. fiveohatch

    fiveohatch Arachnoknight Old Timer

    from what i've heard, a widow probably won't kill you unless you're a little kid or elderly.

    i still wouldn't want to get bit by one though.

    i'm glad that i live only about a mile away from the best trauma center in this area.
  6. JPD

    JPD Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Black Widow - Neurotoxic
    Brown Recluse - Cytotoxic
    I would rather take my chance with a Brown Recluse bite. The effects from the bite of a Black Widow are said to be equated to being attacked by a pack of wild dogs.
    There is so much unnecessary hype surrounding both spiders and the effects of each of their venoms.
    Bites from either spider is uncommon, although, it may seem more common due to inaccurate estimates brought about by the media and other unreliable sources.
    They are both reluctant to bite and shy by nature and certainly do not deserve the reputation that has been bestowed upon them.
    With that said......head to head......my money is with the Brown Recluse if the Black Widow is out of it's web and on open ground, however, if the Brown Recluse happens into a Black Widow's web......then my money is on the Widow.
  7. Psoulocybe

    Psoulocybe Arachnosquire Old Timer

    I think I'd rather take my chances with a black widow. Sounds crazy, but being a large healthy adult, I doubt any terrible long term effects.

    A brown recluse bite will probably result in some serious dead tissue.

    It's a close call though... I certainly don't want to file a bite report on either of them!
  8. docxp

    docxp Arachnopeon

    If I have to choose I would like to be bitten by black widow and it could be everything not a mactans(he has strongest venom of all latrodectus). The symptoms are very painful, but there is small chance that i will be dead and it do not leave any sign on skin. I do not read a lot about brown recluse, but their venom leves horrible scarf.
  9. orcrist

    orcrist Arachnosquire Old Timer

    Horrible Scarves I am not familiar with, but it does cause some nasty scarring. ;)

    Widow venom is more likely to kill on its own, and from what I know more painful. Excruciating pain through the entire body + physical illness.

    Recluse venom is not going to kill you on it's own unless the bite is conveniently situated where it will cause necrosis in a major organ. And that doesn't happen much. It will cause mild to serious necrosis (rotting of the flesh) around the bite wound, resulting in a large open sore. These sores are easily infected, and the few deaths that actually occur invoving recluses are from subsequent infections instead of the actual venom.
    The pain is also more localised with recluse bites.

    Both can potentially kill someone given proper conditions. However, your average healthy homo sapiens will be just fine. Even infants have survived mactans bites under the right circumstances. (as a baby your immune system will for several days be the strongest it will ever be) But being bitten on the leg by a recluse or pretty much anywhere by an L. variolus is a painful experience.
  10. Venom

    Venom Arachnoprince Old Timer

    If both bites were completely untreated, the widow would have the higher chance of causing a fatality. However, that chance is still pretty small for most people, and those who survive can expect pretty much a complete recovery. Recluse bites however, are less likely to kill, but MUCH MUCH more likely to cause lingering, possibly permanent damage and disfiguring, not to mention a much longer duration of the suffering. With black widow bites you are out of the woods after a few days, mostly recovered in a week. Recluse bites may not heal for months...possibly more than a year. Also, in the real world, most black widow bites that amount to any serious symptoms ARE treated. The antivenom is highly effective, stopping all serious symptoms within minutes of admistration. THere is also treatment without antivenom which can alleviate the primary source of suffering: the horrendous muscle cramping. Treatment for brown recluse bites is not so straight forward. There IS an antivenom, but it is only effective if administered BEFORE the formation of the sore, and many bite victims don't know they are bitten UNTIL the sore forms. There is also the nitroglycerin patch, but this isn't a full cure like the widow antivenom essentially is. Black widows cause a more intense and dangerous syndrome in the short term, with typically fast and nearly complete recovery. Brown recluses cause a slow, disgusting condition which may last much longer than the widow's, cause permanent damage, and also carries a risk overwhelming infection, and a SYSTEMIC syndrome known as viscerocutaneus loxoscelism. This may cause death by destroying red blood cells, causing the empty cell membranes to clog and shut down the kidneys. SO, I would much rather take my chances with a black widow than risk the potentially much more damaging recluse envenomation ( this is partly because I have already impaired kidneys ). With a widow, you can at least get antivenom if you need it.
  11. N.W.A.

    N.W.A. Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Black widow bites are the more deadly of the two, but the brown recluse causes lasting effects and kills off tissue surrounding the bite. Sometimes surgery is needed and can take 2-3 to even 4 tries for the doctor to remove all of the infection caused by the skin necrosis. My friend went through a recluse bite a year ago and needed surgery 3 times to remove all of the infection. It is now fully healed except for a scar where he was bitten. A black widow will make you sick and will cause spasms due to the neurotoxin. It has a low chance of killing a healthy adult, but a young child/ elderly person could possibly die from the bite. Also, in some cases even the antivenin could be deadly due to an allergic reaction. And, like orcrist said, if the recluse bite is conveniently situated over a major organ, it could cause death if not treated.
  12. death1

    death1 Arachnosquire Old Timer


    I'd take a hit from a Widow before a Recluse. Recluse's kill tissue. No thanks! :(
  13. SqueakMaan

    SqueakMaan Arachnopeon

    Those huge disgusting sores and wounds caused by a bite from a Brown Recluse is really a lot more rare than most people think. Usually, the bites while painful, do not cause those gaping wounds we hear about so much. There is an enzyme in recluse venom that a small number of people are allergic to. When someone who is allergic to the enzyme is bitten, that's when the horrible wounds are caused. That can happen with other spiders with a cytotoxic venom as well, just relatively more rare than with the Brown recluse. Generally when bitten most people are left with small scars that aren't very noticeable, if that. So unless you're in that category you'll most likely be all right.

    With Black Widows however, it doesn't matter whether you have an allergy or not, it will still cause a huge amount of pain, maybe worse. While a fully grown healthy adult has little to fear of death from a Black Widow bite it still hurts a great deal.

    I've been bitten by a Brown Recluse before with no lasting affects, just a small scar that can only be seen if i'm looking for it. I personally would rather take another hit from recluse than a Black Widow.
  14. G. Carnell

    G. Carnell Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    ive heard stories of Widow bites in S Europe (L.tredecimgutattus) which lead to huge chunks of flesh needing to be removed from the guy who was bitten
  15. death1

    death1 Arachnosquire Old Timer

    Still not swayed

    And I'm still not swayed. Those Recluse's are bad. I'd keep one but, I would never get bit by one! :D
  16. Venom

    Venom Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Personally, I don't know that I'd keep an L.reclusa...maybe an L.deserta, since they are a recluse, and have the recluse appearance etc. but are much less dangerous.
  17. fiveohatch

    fiveohatch Arachnoknight Old Timer

    i just have to figure out how to catch the gravid widow that's on the side of my place. she's got a giant web (goes about 2.5' up the wall and 2' out) and lives under a brick during the day.

    i need to get a KK for her though.
  18. pandinus

    pandinus Arachnoking Old Timer

    L reclusa infess my house. i once did a study and went to my basement, 10 min. later i had 9 recluses. I was bitten once in my sleep(cant be sure it was LR, bt it looked identical to photos of the wound) when i was about 9-10. my father(who is an MD) gave me some antibiotics or something that stopped further necrosis, and the wound was healed shortly after. nothing to wrie home about in my experience.
  19. fiveohatch

    fiveohatch Arachnoknight Old Timer

    i went widow hunting one night at the last place i lived at and found over 30 of them in the backyard. i couldn't believe there were that many of them there.
  20. N.W.A.

    N.W.A. Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Thats a little scary five.