The word wolf spider itself sounds scary. From the word wolf, you can tell the dangers that come with this animal. The name encompasses a family of many spiders, which are mostly dark colored and athletic. The spiders catch their prey by hunting it down violently using their sharp eyesight rather than looking for food while on the web like other spiders do. Their parenting is unique and exciting too. Wolf spiders are commonly found in grasslands, but they are also present in deserts and rain-forests provided they find insects.
Wolf spiders are large and hairy that they are at times mistaken for tarantulas. They come in different colors brown, gray, black or tan. They have dark markings which are at times stripes. However, the spiders can be distinguished by the following main features;
- Eight long and hairy legs
- Sharp horizontal fangs
- Eight eyes arranged in three rows
- Unique Jack impression on their back
- They range in size from about ¼ to two inches long
Wolf spider camouflages which help them to catch their prey and protect them from predators. The male spiders are typically smaller than the females.
Bite and threats
Wolf spider can only bite when threatened, but their poison is not very harmful to human beings. Wolf spider’s bite symptoms include redness, mild pain, and swelling. At times a fever can be experienced and swell of the lymph glands. It is advisable to seek medical assistance immediately after the bite or do first aid especially for young children and the elderly.
Habits and defense
The spiders commonly roam alone at night as they stalk their prey. They live on the ground, but others are known for climbing trees to look for food. Some species dig tunnels or use other animal’s tunnels while others hide in leaf litters or vegetation. Some wolf spiders have a secured territory for hunting and then return to a particular place to feed, but others have neither an actual hunting area nor a home, they hunt nomadically.
Most of the wolf spiders feed on ground insects and other spiders. The large females mostly feed on small vertebrates. There are some that violently run after their prey while others wait for it to walk towards them and ambush it. They jump on their prey holding it between their legs and then roll their backs, trap it with the limbs before biting it.
They use their sharp eyesight, camouflaging color and speed for hunting. Wolf spiders also have a keen sensitivity to vibrations which allows them to hear their predators coming. They are a food source for rodents, birds, and lizards.
Mating and life cycle
The spiders use their eyes more than other spiders, and they use their visual cues for mating. The male will show their interest to the female by waving the short, sensory appendages near the mouths by banging them together. After they mate, the female lays dozens of eggs and wrap them in silk which creates an eggs sac. The female spider carries the egg sac attached to its spinnerets, and if it is separated from the pouch, it searches for it violently and furiously. They act as a domineering mother protecting her kids when carrying the egg sac. This behavior does not change after the eggs are hatched. The mother carries the spiderlings on her back for several days. The male spiders live a year or less while females live several years.
The spiders are adaptable to many habitats and can be found in any environment that is suitable for insects. They can be found in open grasslands and suburban backyards, wet coastal forests and vegetation around lakes and marshes. In cold weather, they seek warmth in homes, and you will find them on windows, doors, basements, and garages.
Due to their large size and scary appearance, the spiders are feared by many. The good news is that the wolf spiders can be controlled through direct contact killer. You can protect your home by spraying around your house for outdoor protection. For indoor protection, apply the spray on specific spots and cracks where the spiders crawl but ensure to put it away from food areas. If you come across a spider, spray it directly, and it dies immediately. Other control measures include;
- Clearing vegetation around your home
- Remove all debris and wood, rocks or leaf piles
- Seal cracks and holes on the inner and outer walls of your house, around windows and doors and near the ground
- Put screens over chimney vents and other crawl spaces in your home
- Avoid using outdoor lights as they attract insects that are wolf spiders’ food
There are about 2300 species of wolf spiders. They are beneficial as they help to reduce insects like grasshoppers, ants, crickets, and flies. All the wolf spiders are carnivores though a few of them feed on nectar. All the same, they can be a nuisance to homeowners; hence, you need to keep them away from your home.