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Rabid Wolf Spider (Rabiosa rabida)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Rabid Wolf Spider

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Image Credit: Jon S. from southwestern MI
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The Rabid Wolf Spider is not likely to bite, but its alarming speed, huge size, and unfortunate common name would have you think otherwise.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Rabid Wolf Spiders are erratic, fast moving spiders that seem crazed. This is how they earned their common name. They do not carry the Rabies virus and are considered harmless to people. They are aggressive in their posturing and appear to challenge people and animals, but are actually disinclined to bite unless backed into a literal and figurative corner. Running away is the preferred method of dealing with threats that linger. They can be handled without incident, but the handler must know what they are doing. Bites, if they do occur, are a bit painful, but are considered 'medically insignificant' according to academic and government sources. This means a bite heals on its own and does not require special medical treatment or a visit to the hospital.

This light brown spider has two thick dark brown lines, or stripes, running down the sides of the head. The abdomen has one dark brown center line and two thinner brown lines on the sides of the tan body. At night, its eyes can reflect light in a way similar to dogs and cats, unlike other spiders. Shining a flashlight on a walking path can be a great way to find one in the dark.

Rabid Wolf Spiders are active hunters that chase down prey though they may lie in wait sometimes for prey to pass close enough to catch them. They do not spin webs or sit in them. They are wonderful ecological controls that keep pest insect numbers low thanks to their diet. Because they move around to find food, they sometimes wander indoors. An approaching sheet of paper may engage their flight instinct and help coax them back outside.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Fast insect icon
Harmless insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Lycosidae
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          Genus: Rabiosa
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            Species: rabida

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Rabiosa rabida
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 21mm (0.43" to 0.82")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: tan; brown
Descriptors: fast; erratic; scary; brown; grass; large; big; freaky; stripes; lines; biting; venomous; harmless

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 11mm (0.4in) and 21mm (0.8in)
Lo: 11mm
Md: 16mm
Hi: 21mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Rabid Wolf Spider may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Rabid Wolf Spider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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