Tarantula vs Black Widow: Which Would Win in a Fight?

Black Widow on Black Background
© iStock.com/AmericanWildlife

Written by Colby Maxwell

Published: June 9, 2022

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In the world of spiders, few are more famous than the tarantula and the black widow. Both of these species are incredibly dangerous and live all over the world. If they were to encounter each other in the wild, however, which would win in a fight? Today, we are going to explore these species a bit more and learn who is the true king of spiders. Let’s discover the tarantula vs black widow: which would win in a fight?

Setting up the fight

Tarantulas differ from black widows in size, strength, and defense mechanism.

Before we compare the two, it’s important to look at some specifics of the two spiders. Currently, there are over 1,000 documented species of tarantulas worldwide, with 30 being found in the United States. Additionally, there are 31 species of “widow” spiders, five of them being classified as black widows.

Today, we will be comparing two specific species that live in the United States, increasing the likelihood that some kind of real-life interaction could happen. As such, we will be comparing the Texas brown tarantula and the western black widow. The Texas brown tarantula lives in the southern United States, including Oklahoma, Texas, and as far east as Louisiana. The western black widow is similar to most other species of black widows in theUnited States. They live west of the Mississippi, well into Texas and Oklahoma, where tarantulas live.

Now that we have our fighters, let’s see them fight!

Tarantula vs black widow: Size

Tarantula vs black widow: Which would win in a fight?

The brown tarantula is much larger than the black widow.

©texas brown tarantula/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to size, the tarantula is the winner by a massive margin. Tarantulas are among the largest spiders in the world, with the Goliath bird-eating tarantula being the largest of them all. Brown tarantulas regularly grow to leg spans exceeding 4 inches and have large, heavy bodies. As adults, a tarantula can weigh as much as 3 oz.

Black widows are somewhat large spiders, but they don’t really compare to a full-grown tarantula. Their bodies are usually less than an inch in length, and they only weigh 0.035 oz when fully grown. To compare, the tarantula is 85 times heavier than the black widow.

Winner: Tarantula

Tarantula vs black widow: Strength

Tarantula vs black widow: Which would win in a fight?

The tarantula is much stronger than the black widow.

©Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock.com

As their size would suggest, tarantulas are much stronger than many other spiders. In fact, tarantulas are regular predators of mammals, including mice. Still, the most common prey of brown tarantulas is primarily insects and other arthropods, especially small spiders. Tarantulas have extensive experience in eating insects smaller than themselves and can easily overpower them.

Black widows are small spiders than mostly rely on their venom and webs, not their strength, to kill prey. As such, they are mechanically weak spiders that don’t have standalone strength as compared to the tarantula.

Winner: Tarantula

Tarantula vs black widow: Venom

Tarantula vs black widow: Which would win in a fight?

The black widow has significantly more potent venom than the tarantula.

©Sari ONeal/Shutterstock.com

Both spiders have venom, although the tarantula’s venom is significantly weaker than the widow’s. Although a bite from a tarantula is painful, it isn’t deadly, save for extremely rare cases of allergic reactions. For anything smaller, however, the strength of tarantula venom is strong enough to kill or incapacitate their prey.

Black widows are known to have some of the most toxic venoms in the entire world. In fact, widows have more toxic venom than a rattlesnake, although they can’t inject nearly the amount that a snake could. Still, black widow venom can kill humans (albeit rarely), and anything smaller than a human is in danger, especially other insects.

Winner: Black widow

Tarantula vs black widow: Special tools

Tarantula vs black widow: Which would win in a fight?

Tarantulas would have more useful special abilities if the two were to fight.

©iStock.com/waldru

Tarantulas have two special tools they can use in the fight against black widows. The first is the mechanical damage associated with their bites. Tarantula fangs are extremely large and powerful, even to an animal as large as a human. The sheer damage that a 1-inch fang can cause to a 1-inch long spider shouldn’t be understated. Additionally, tarantulas can shed hairs that are extremely irritating to other animals. Although this is a valuable deterrent, it doesn’t cause much harm to a spider and is more geared towards larger predators of the tarantula itself.

Black widows have the ability to shoot webs as a deterrent if needed. Still, this defense mechanism is negligible when compared to the sheer strength of a tarantula.

Winner: Tarantula

Tarantula vs black widow: Ultimate winner

Goliath tarantula with fangs lifted

The tarantula is the ultimate winner in a battle with a black widow.

©Milan Zygmunt/Shutterstock.com

The ultimate winner between a showdown of a tarantula and a black widow is, without a doubt, the tarantula.

Despite both spiders being ultimate predators in their associated niches, the tarantula just has too much stacked against it. Tarantulas are larger, stronger, have massive fangs, and regularly hunt spiders as a prey source.

The only caveat in this battle of spiders is the black widow’s venom. If the black widow was somehow able to land a strike on the tarantula, even as it was being killed itself, it would likely result in mutual death for both arachnids. Still, an encounter between the two would likely result in both leaving the other alone rather than risk death.


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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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