Wolf Spiders

A Wolf spider has long hairy legs, is brown-gray in color with a body about a ½ inch in length (not including the legs) and sometimes is mistaken for a brown recluse.  Wolf spiders, however, are non-poisonous and are considered beneficial “garden spiders” because of their hunting skills and their ability to rid gardens of insects.

Wolf Spiders are Non-poisonous

Wolf spiders are non-poisonous, beneficial arachnids.

Identifying Wolf Spiders

Wolf spiders (Pardosa sp.) are of the Lycosidae family, meaning they can be identified by the way their eyes are arranged. The Wolf spider has eight eyes; four small eyes make up the lower row, in the center there are two larger eyes, facing forward, and the remaining two eyes are in the upper row on the sides of the head. Because of their good vision, Wolf spiders hunt instead of building webs to catch their prey.

Drawing of a Wolf Spider's Eyes

Wolf spiders have 8 eyes that provide them
with very good vision for hunting.

Wolf Spider History

The name “Wolf??? spider comes from the Greek word “Lycos.” Originally named because Wolf spiders were thought to hunt in groups similar to a pack of wolves; however, upon close examination, the face on the abdomen of a Wolf spider actually does resemble a wolf. Like most spiders, the Wolf spider is a lone hunter and does not hunt in packs. Wolf spiders are one of the larger spider families and can be found throughout the world.

Face of wolf on spider's abdomen

Close-up of a Wolf spider’s abdomen.

Hunting and Habitat

Wolf spiders are unique from other spiders in that they do not build webs to capture food; instead, Wolf spiders create burrows in the ground. They can, however, be found in grassy areas or shrubs where there’s a plentiful supply of insects available. Wolf spiders hunt down their prey, sometimes chasing them over short distances. These spiders run fast and use their eight eyes to find their prey and pounce upon their victims. Because of their excellent vision, Wolf spiders can hunt both day and night.

Wolf spider carrying her spiderlings her back

Female Wolf spiders carry young spiderlings on their back.

Caring for Wolf Spiderlings

After mating in autumn, the fertilized female Wolf spider overwinters until spring at which time she creates an egg sac using silk made from her spinnerets. The egg sac stays attached to her hind spinnerets allowing the mother to carry her unborn young around with her. She has to keep the abdomen raised to keep the egg sac from dragging but despite the heavy load, she is still able to hunt. Once the spiderlings hatch in June or July, they climb onto their mother’s back and cling to her until they are partially grown but by winter, they have reached only half their size. Young spiderlings will overwinter as do their mother until the following spring, when they are large enough to fend for themselves. Male Wolf spiders only live about a year, and often die before winter after mating in the fall, whereas female Wolf spiders can live for several years.

Drawing of a wolf spider's spinnerets

Spinnerets are silk spinning organs to create the egg sac

Wolf Spider Pest Management

Occasionally, a Wolf spider will wander into the home by mistake since it spends most of its time crawling on top of the ground in search of prey. This is common during the fall. A lone Wolf spider inside is not an infestation because breeding is done outdoors. Wolf spider bites are rare and non-poisonous but as with all spiders, bites may cause a reaction in some individuals.

The best way to keep Wolf spiders out of the home is by applying weather stripping to doors and windows, patching holes in screens, and caulking any cracks seen on the outside of the home. At Hearts Pest Management, certified technicians will assist in identifying spider species and are adept at finding entry points where Wolf spiders may find their way inside. If you have a garden, you might try trapping the spider in a jar and release it into the garden to provide a “natural” pest service for your plants.

Call today at 1-800-986-1006 for help with a spider infestation. You’re also welcome to complete the form below and a caring Hearts Pest Management representative will contact you shortly.

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References

Iowa State University Department of Entomology
University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources
Wikipedia – Wolf Spiders

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