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Wolf Spider (Tigrosa spp.)

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

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Wolf Spiders have a high creep factor thanks to their size, speed, and those hairy, bending legs.

Updated: 06/28/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Often seen in the woods or running along nearby pavement, Wolf Spiders do occasionally wander indoors, offering service with a fright to the people inside. They are larger than most spiders found inside, and tend to try to run away from people approaching them. They are hunters, not web-spinners, so they are fast and agile, making sudden sprints to either capture prey or evade capture themselves. Like almost every spider in North America, it has venom, but it is not poisonous or lethal. They can bite when agitated, causing pain and redness which may last for days, but the wound does eventually heal.

The long legs of the Wolf Spider can bend at a sharp angle when walking. Other joints can also have a crook in them, which creates a disturbing body profile commonly seen in scary movies. A tan border surrounds the cephalothorax, or head 'plate', which is slightly humped. A pale tan line separates two black halves. The abdomen is more oblong than spherical and often showcases a pattern down the center, which can be as simple as a black mark shaped like a leaf from a holly bush.

Wolf Spiders are known for their reflective eyes. Like deer in headlights, the 8 small eyes on a Wolf Spider reflect a greenish light at night when passed over with a flashlight. Often, this is how campers realize these spiders are around them. They do take shelter inside tents, so it is always a good idea to shake out sleeping bags and shoes before using them.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Lycosidae
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          Genus: Tigrosa
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Tigrosa spp.
Other Name(s): Tiger Wolf Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 11mm to 31mm (0.43" to 1.22")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black; tan
Descriptors: bent legs; fast; large; inside; biting; venomous

Wolf-Spider-Tigrosa Video(s)

Wolf Spider running from gentle puffs of air.

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 11mm (0.4in) and 31mm (1.2in)
Lo: 11mm
Md: 21mm
Hi: 31mm

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 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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