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Wolf Spider (Various spp.)

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

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Image Credit: Dave K. from Carbondale, IL
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Wolf Spiders are familiar, yet frightening, mostly because of their size and all of those babies.

Updated: 01/06/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Wolf Spiders are woodland spiders. Their natural habitat is outdoors, though they may wander inside, or be brought in unwittingly as they rest among wood stacks and plant pots. They eat a variety of insects and hunt mostly at night. Mottled coloring helps hide them during the day. They have 8 eyes and the arrangement is the same regardless of species: 4 smaller ones form a lower row, two large ones form the middle row, and two short ones make up the upper row and look like eyebrows. These eyes reflect light at night and often give away their presence when a flashlight moves past them at campsites. They are hefty, robust in body, and fast movers. The female is known to carry her young spiderlings on her back until they are old enough to be on their own, and the large mound of these small, moving babies adds a higher creep factor to those already squeamish about spiders.

Wolf Spiders can bite, and though the bite is painful, it does heal on its own. Generally, only young children and the elderly would need medical attention. Avoid contact with Wolf Spiders to reduce the likelihood of a bite. Take steps to keep debris and piles of wood away from the house, and cut down unruly vegetation to remove hiding places for the spider. Seal cracks and gaps around doors and windows to reduce entry points into the house. Keep lights off at night to avoid attracting insects that might also attract the spider. Disturbing a female with spiderlings on her back risks scattering them in all directions.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Fast insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Lycosidae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 35mm (0.11" to 1.37")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; yellow; black
Descriptors: big; fast; spiky hair on legs; wide head; eye hump

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 3mm (0.1in) and 35mm (1.4in)
Lo: 3mm
Md: 19mm
Hi: 35mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
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Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the 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 Wolf Spider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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