Holmes Lawn & Pest Blog

The Wolf Spider

What Does a Wolf Spider Look LIke

This spider is named for its method of hunting prey via stalking and attacking, similar to a wolf. Wolf spiders in Utah typically belong to the Hogna genus, but there are hundreds of species of wolf spiders. They are solitary creatures that prefer to dwell and hunt away from other spiders. They are known to camouflage with decaying plant and tree matter, as well as effectively hiding underneath dirt and rocks on the ground. Wolf spiders are commonly spotted in Utah, especially in the fall months. While their venom is not considered overly dangerous to humans, there can be instances of more serious situations developing after a bite when the wound is not properly cared for and becomes infected. 

Appearance

With hairy bodies and large fangs, wolf spiders are commonly misidentified as tarantulas. The markings on wolf spiders are also similar to those of certain grass spiders. Luckily, there are some attributes of wolf spiders that make them easier to identify. For example, wolf spiders found in Utah typically grow up to 35 millimeters long, making them bigger than grass spiders but smaller than tarantulas. While certain species can have unique colors like red or yellow, wolf spiders commonly found in Utah almost always feature darker colors. 

Key Characteristics

  • Colors ranging from brown to gray
  • Small markings across their bodies and their legs
  • Two dark bands on top of cephalothorax (common Utah species) 
  • Solid black-colored underbody  
  • Large, hairy chelicerae
  • Large fangs
  • Pedipalps roughly ¼ the size of the legs 
  • Very unique eye placement
    • Two upward-facing eyes on top of head area
    • Two large, forward-facing eyes (most noticeable) 
    • Four small eyes in bottom row

Life Cycle

As solitary creatures, male wolf spiders often have to travel longer distances or search for longer amounts of time when looking for a mate. Once a mate is found, the courtship process is complex and dangerous. Wolf spiders have excellent vision, and mating involves visual cues given off by the male, such as enlarged leg segments, different colorations appearing, specific leg and palp movements, and more. As is the case with many spiders, the female may attack and eat the male during the courting if she is not receptive. Larger males are often not attacked by females during the mating process, and they will go on to find several mates in their short lifetimes.

 

After mating, the female deposits up to 100 eggs in a silken sac.  ➥  The mother spider then carries around the sac on her back until the spiderlings molt, and the mother rips open the sac.  ➥  The spiderlings cling to the mother’s legs and body, holding onto tiny hairs for safety.  ➥  Spiderlings stay on/near the mother for 3-4 weeks before they go out on their own.  ➥  Adult males spend most of their lives looking for mates, and females spend their lives hunting.  ➥  Most wolf spiders only live for about a year, with females typically outliving the males.

Habits And Habits

The varying species of wolf spiders can be found almost everywhere in the world, excluding areas near the cold geographic poles. They are adept at acclimating to new environments, and those environments are frequently near humans. These spiders are commonly found in grasslands and fields, including urban and suburban yards, but they also inhabit areas like deserts or forests. Though they are very common and often live among humans, wolf spiders want to be left alone and will attack humans if they feel threatened.

 

  • Wolf spiders dwell on the ground and use organic matter for shelter.
  • The many markings on a wolf spider are used for camouflage.
  • They do not spin webs; they hunt, stalk, and attack prey. 
  • Wolf spiders don’t jump, but they lunge their bodies forward to pounce on food.
  • Common prey include ants, beetles, larva, flies, and even smaller reptiles or amphibians. 
  • They follow insects for long distances, including going inside people’s homes.

Human Interaction

Wolf spiders are generally considered not medically significant, and some even consider their presence to be beneficial. These spiders eat many types of bugs that are harmful to lawns and plants, so some people embrace the presence of a wolf spider in their yards. However, the bite of a wolf spider is relatively painful due to their large fangs, and infections and allergic reactions have been reported. Though the bite is not lethal, you should proceed with caution if you spot a wolf spider in your home, and seek medical attention if a bite occurs.  

Call Holmes Lawn & Pest at (801) 616-5296 for more information on spiders and pest control in Utah.

Thank you for reading our blog post on the wolf spider. Arachnids come in many varients across the world and we have created blogs on the most common spiders found in Utah. Our last blog covers all the interesting facts about the hobo spider and our most recent blog will teach you everything you need to know about the yellow sac spider.

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