Spiders: The Wolf Spider… What You Need to Know

Many and most spiders have eight legs and eight eyes, but the wolf spider’s eyes are different than other species’ because the wolf spider has reflectors in its eyes. Even though there are many different varieties of wolf spiders, they all have reflectors in their eyes. The wolf spider is nocturnal so when it is out at night people can use flashlights to help see the wolf spider. The eyes will shine when the light hits them due to the reflectors in the wolf spiders eyes. The wolf spiders eyes line up in three rows. The bottom row has four small eyes, the middle row has two large eyes, and then on the top are two middle-sized eyes.

wolf spiders eyes

Here is a wolf spider, notice the two large eyes, they are the middle row of eyes.

Often times the wolf spider is confused with the fishing spider, nursery spider, or the brown recluse spider. All of these spiders have similar coloring which makes it hard to distinguish which species they are; the one thing that will always differentiate the wolf spider from these species is its reflecting eyes. The body of a wolf spider is proportionally small and the legs can span up to five inches. The male wolf spider is always smaller in size than the female wolf spider. Camouflage is a friend of the wolf spider, as its fur is usually camouflaged to match the environment where the particular wolf spider lives. The colors of fur can range from brown, gray, and or black. These camouflage colors help protect the wolf spider from larger predators.

Wolf spiders can be found all over the country, which also makes it harder to physically differentiate them from other spiders because they are not just found in certain areas. The wolf spider prefers to live in dark and moist areas. Wolf spiders can be found living in meadows, wetlands, woods, and even suburban gardens. Another aspect that each variety of wolf spider thinks of when picking a home is if there is enough of a food supply nearby.

Once a wolf spider picks a place to live it will begin making its home. The wolf spider is different from other spiders when it comes to its home, because rather than making a web and dwelling on it the wolf spider burrows. The burrow provides protection from enemies, bad weather, and provides a place to keep and protect the wolf spider’s eggs. Sometimes wolf spiders will even make their burrows underneath things like rocks. There are also the occasions where the wolf spider doesn’t even need to dig a burrow because they will just move into a burrow another animal has abandoned. Wolf spiders spend most of their time in their burrows. They of course come out at night in order to hunt for food. Inside the burrow the wolf spider might spin a silk web on the floor or even as a semi door to protect from things outside or bad weather. Even though wolf spiders can live in any environment they do not always like to be in the cold weather. Once it starts to cool down there is a high chance of wolf spiders migrating towards homes where they can go for warmth.

There is always a chance of finding wolf spiders with in your home, especially during the fall and winter seasons, but there are things one can do to help protect their home from being invaded by wolf spiders. Some places you might find a wolf spider in your home are in window frames, doorways, garages, basements or on houseplants. Remember that wolf spiders like dark and damp places to live. The thought of wolf spiders in your home is frightening, but they are also good because they eat other small insects. In any case it is best to call your local pest control service to come over and inspect your house.

Many spiders are poisonous and scary. While the wolf spider does have poison and looks very scary, it is most often harmless to people. The poison the wolf spider has is used for its own prey when hunting and killing for food. Although, in rare cases people can be allergic to the venom, but the person will not know they are allergic to the venom until they have experienced a wolf spider bite. Wolf spiders will not bite someone unless the person is bothering or provoking the wolf spider; so finding out if you are allergic or not might not ever happen. In any situation do not try to harm the wolf spider as that is only putting yourself in more danger. If the rare occurrence does happen and you are bitten by a wolf spider try to catch the spider and take it with you to the doctor. This will help identify if it was an actual wolf spider that bit you. Just as with many other types of pest bites – keep calm and elevate the area where the bite occurred and apply a cold compress. The only thing that will become very noticeable and will alert you if you are allergic to wolf spider venom is that the skin around the bite mark can turn black if you are allergic.

Wolf spiders will never just hurt someone or something unless it happens to be its next meal. Small insects are the main food group for wolf spiders. When the wolf spider hunts, it moves very fast in order to catch its prey. Ants, grasshoppers, earwigs, beetles, roaches, crickets, and other spiders are usually part of a wolf spider’s meal. Once the wolf spider catches its prey they use their legs and palps to help hold down the prey and use their jaw to crush and kill the prey. Then the wolf spider can eat.

wolf spider with egg sac

Here is a mother wolf spider on the move with her sac of eggs.

Not only do palps help wolf spiders kill their prey, but palps are also used by wolf spiders in their mating ritual. The wolf spiders mating habits are odd. The males will use their palps as a mating call, often banging them together or hitting them like drums. The female can then choose to respond or not to the males mating calls. Many times female wolf spiders have seen some of the male wolf spiders before and may choose to answer the males mating call if she recognizes him, but there are times where a female may answer the mating call without ever seeing this particular male wolf spider before. In this particular instance there is a high risk for the unknown males, as after mating sometimes females will kill the male wolf spider and it is more likely to take place if the female does not know the male wolf spider. If the female wolf spider does choose to mate with the familiar male wolf spider, or even the unfamiliar wolf spider, she will carry up to 100 eggs. Mating will occur anytime between the late spring and early fall, and the females can mate up to twice during this time frame. Once the female wolf spider has her eggs the eggs are put into a silk sac that she spins. This silk sac will then be protected viciously by the mother at all times, the mother wolf spider will even attach it to her abdomen if she is traveling.

wolf spider with babies on body

Here is a mother wolf spider with all of her babies on her body. Once they detach they will be young adults that have survive on their own.

During this time the mother wolf spider will stay in her burrow to protect the egg sack. Once the eggs are hatched, and the spiderlings are born, they immediately crawl onto the mothers body covering her body and legs. At this point the wolf spider spiderlings will stay attached to their mother for up to a month, and then they will fall off and be on their own. From this point the wolf spider cycle will repeat.

Photos from www.creativecommons.org

4 Responses to “Spiders: The Wolf Spider… What You Need to Know”

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  4. Flying insects can be controlled using yellow sticky traps. Pests on or around the plant won’t be captured by these traps. In general, only flying insects will be controlled this way. Sticky traps can be purchased at your local garden center.

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