Wolf Spiders

APPEARANCE & IDENTIFICATION

Due to the many species of wolf spiders in the United States, their appearances vary. Wolf spiders are generally relatively large with hairy black, gray, or brown bodies.  Sometimes confused with the tarantula, wolf spiders are smaller in size with less hairy legs and abdomen.

BEHAVIOR (ACTIVITY)

Wolf spiders are generally nocturnal hunters and rest in their harborage site during the daytime. However, there are some species that roam around in the daytime to look for prey. Because of their hunting behavior, wolf spiders have a stronger sense of sight than other spider species. They are solitary creatures that will only be found together when they congregate to mate.

Wolf spiders dig tunnels or use abandoned animal tunnels to build small, elevated soil structures around their nest and wait inside for prey to come within reach. Female wolf spiders may live up to several years, while males usually only live for one year.

Wolf spiders will bite if pressed upon or disturbed, but their first response is to run and hide. Due to their mild venom, it is only the very large species that will cause much of a problem. Their bite feels like a sharp pinprick accompanied by slight pain and redness.

DIET

Wolf spiders prey upon small insects and other arthropods; however, large females are known to consume very small amphibians and reptiles.

HABITAT

A wolf spider’s habitat can be just about anywhere that protection and a source of food are found. Commonly occupied habitats include holes or tunnels in the ground, under or between rocks, pieces of wood, and under the edges of siding on buildings. Some species hunt along the ground surrounding ponds and marshes and may even go into the water to capture their prey.

REPRODUCTION & LIFECYCLE

Males mate with the females in the fall months and usually die before the colder weather of winter arrives. While their life cycle varies by temperature and geographic location, the mated females overwinter in protected places and produce their egg sac in the early spring through summer. In the mid-summer months, the eggs hatch, and the immature spiderlings grow to about ½ of their adult size and then overwinter. Once warm weather returns, the spiders continue to grow and become fully developed adults. A curious behavior of wolf spiders involves the female carrying her egg sac on her body and the newly hatched young crawling on her back for the first few weeks of their life.

SIGNS OF THEIR PRESENCE

Evidence of their presence includes the spider’s den and the sighting of adult or immature spiders.

PREVENTION TIPS

Due to wolf spiders’ outdoor hunting habits, they infrequently venture inside the home. Prevention is typically limited to outdoor locations with the exception of a garage or storage shed. Some control tips may include:

  • Using a broom or vacuum to remove adult and immature spiders.
  • Eliminating as many habitat sources as possible.
  • Keeping insects under control to minimize prey.
  • Sealing cracks, gaps, and other entry points where spiders could get inside.
  • Using adhesive glue boards to trap roaming wolf spiders.

HOW TO CONTROL 

The direct application of aerosol insecticide formulations is probably the most effective and practical control product against wolf spiders. If deemed absolutely necessary, the use of an insecticide dust applied to a tunnel also would be effective.  Be sure to always carefully follow the product’s label when making insecticide applications.