A source for information on spiders
Wolf Spider Family
Wolf spiders are hairy arachnids that can grow up to five
inches in leg span. Quick moving and relatively large in size, wolf spiders inspire fear when they are found
within human dwellings. Wolf spiders are also sometimes confused for tarantulas. However, occurrences of wolf
spider bites are extremely rare and are not known to be deadly.
The Carolina wolf spider is the largest documented wolf spider in the United
States. Its color matches its habitat, allowing for camouflage. Other wolf spider species may inhabit alpine
meadows, coastal forests, dry shrub lands and woodlands. Most species are burrowers that live underground, although
some specimens can be seen traveling aboveground in leaf litter, on lawns and in gardens. Most wolf spiders are
also nocturnal, although some do hunt in the morning. A wolf spider’s diet typically consists of insects and other
Wolf spiders are
large, hairy spiders that are typically mottled brown to gray in color with various markings or lines. They
also have two large, forward-looking eyes in the middle of their face.
Range from ½ to 2-inches in length.
Most wolf spiders have stout bodies and long,
thick legs. Their bodies are low to the ground even when walking or running, giving them the appearance of
continually being on the prowl. As skilled daytime hunters, their dull coloring helps to camouflage them as they
hunt along the ground. “Wolf spider” is a common name for any of a group of ground-dwelling hunting spiders that
are not associated with webs. There are more than 2000 species and are large enough to sometimes be mistaken with
The hunting strategies of Florida wolf spiders are perhaps the most diverse of any spider group. Many are active,
wandering hunters during the day in sunny areas along the ground and in vegetation; others hunt at night and remain
in silk-lined “retreats” during the day. Others live and hunt in aquatic environments, walking on the surface of
ponds or on submerged vegetation. Some wolf spiders dig burrows in which they lie in wait for passing insects and
other prey. Of the Florida spiders that dig burrows, some add a moveable trap door at the burrow entrance
while others build an elevated lookout point.
The female wolf spider lays eggs in a large sac, which can often be as large as her own body. She attaches the egg
sac to her body, and carries it with her until the eggs hatch. She then tears open the egg sac and the newly
hatched spiders climb onto her back where they remain for up to a week. They do not usually breed indoors or in
Wolf spiders are commonly found in gardens, leaf litter and areas of tall grass where they patrol the ground for
insects, and similar prey, though they can be found in a variety of habitats. They may also dwell under stones and
logs, preferring covered, hidden areas. Wolf spiders are rarely pests, and usually enter structures underneath
doors or through cracks in the exterior walls where their size can frighten some.
Bite Signs and Symptoms:
Wolf spiders are not poisonous,
and will typically bite only when handled. As with most spiders bites, they may cause reactions in certain
Keep grass cut low and vegetation from
overgrowing in yards and gardens near the home. Disperse rock and lumber piles, and seal any cracks or spaces
around plumbing pipes leading indoors. Also, as with most other pests, cover all vents with screening.
The best approach for controlling wolf spiders is through placement of sticky traps to capture the few spiders
that may have entered. Maintaining sticky traps behind furniture, to either side of exterior doors, and in the
garage is an excellent way to intercept most spiders as they enter. Steps that should be taken to prevent new
spiders from entering, include:
- Removing or limiting heavy, ground-covering vegetation near the building.
- Sealing cracks and holes in the building's exterior.
- Installing tight-fitting screens on all attic and foundation vents.
- Sealing holes around pipes indoors to prevent spiders from entering the living spaces by following plumbing
lines in basements and crawl spaces.
Where wolf spider invasions are persistent, a professional should be consulted to conduct a thorough inspection
and recommend possible treatments.