What Is A Wolf Spider? (2022 Edition)

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Wolf spiders are fearsome spiders with a hairy appearance, making many people mistake them for tarantulas. However, tarantulas are significantly bigger and heavier than wolf spiders. Like tarantulas, wolf spiders prefer to spend their time outdoors, so if you find one in your home, it’s unlikely that you have an infestation because wolf spiders can’t survive for an extended period of time indoors and are solitary by nature. 

On top of this, wolf spiders, like many other spiders, are relatively benign pests because they eat other more destructive or harmful pests that may lurk around our homes. However, it’s understandable that you would want to discourage these spiders from hanging out around your home, especially if their large eyes and creepy looks scare you. To help you out with this, we’ll go over various topics concerning this spider’s identification, habits, and more. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the following topics: 

  • How to Identify Wolf Spiders
  • Wolf Spider Behavior & Habits
  • What Wolf Spiders Attracted to
  • How You Get Rid of Wolf Spiders
Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

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    How to Identify Wolf Spiders

    Wolf spiders are part of the family Lycosidae. They have long legs and are gray, black, brown, or tan colored with dark brown or black markings on their bodies. Like all spiders, they have eight legs and multiple sets of eyes. Wolf spiders have four pairs of eyes, with the top two pairs being much larger than the four small eyes below them. 

    Their eye configuration is similar to jumping spiders, another type of spider they are commonly mistaken for. Unlike jumping spiders, wolf spiders do not hunt in plants, move in a jerky manner, or jump large distances. Instead, most species of wolf spiders will stay on the ground, waiting until nighttime to hunt their prey down. Some species of wolf spiders will lurk near water and even dive in water after their prey. However, unlike fishing spiders, they don’t carry their egg sacs in their jaws or stay in the water for long periods. Fishing spiders also don’t have two large eyes that face forward as wolf spiders do. 

    Most wolf spiders are about a quarter of an inch to a full inch long, without including the length of their legs. As is common among spiders, female wolf spiders are typically larger than male wolf spiders. Female wolf spiders also have a longer life expectancy, sometimes up to two years, and can go after larger prey, like small reptiles, due to their more significant size. 

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    Wolf Spider Behavior & Habits 

    Wolf spiders are hunting spiders. Unlike many types of spiders, such as the black widow spider or brown recluse spider, they are not web spiders and never create spider webs to capture prey. Instead, they hunt down their prey using their superior speed, sight, and climbing abilities. Wolf spiders are also stealthy and may lay in wait for their prey to come near them before they grab them. On top of this, wolf spiders have fantastic night vision, allowing them to see in the dark, much like a cat. 

    Wolf spiders primarily eat ground-dwelling insects, such as termites, ants, earwigs, flies, and grasshoppers, and other arachnids, like spiders. If given the opportunity, very large female wolf spiders may even eat small reptiles and amphibians. Most wolf spider species will hunt at night and hide during the day, though some species are known to be more active during the day. Depending on the type of wolf spider, they may dig burrows or use tunnels made by other animals to live in and even stalk their prey from. 

    In contrast, wolf spiders have many natural predators that they must constantly evade. To do this, they rely on their speed and camouflaging ability to escape and hide from predators. In addition, their enhanced vision and sensitivity to vibrations help them detect when predators approach them. Wolf spiders will bite to defend themselves, but only as a last resort because they would rather flee from a confrontation. 

    Natural predators of wolf spiders include: 

    • Wasps
    • Ants
    • Other spiders
    • Praying Mantids
    • Small reptiles
    • Birds
    • Toads
    • Other Amphibians
    • Shrews

    As a whole, wolf spiders are solitary spiders who only come together with other wolf spiders to mate. Otherwise, they hunt and live alone. Female wolf spiders will attach their egg sacs to their spinnerets and continue hunting and living like normal until the spiderlings are born. Once born, the spiderlings will stay on her abdomen for about two weeks until they are ready to go out on their own. 

    They are also a non-aggressive, shy spider species that are far more scared of humans than we are of them. As a result, wolf spider bites are uncommon and only happen when a wolf spider is trapped and unable to run away. Generally, wolf spiders typically only bite humans if they are handled. It can be quite painful if a wolf spider bites you, but wolf spider bites rarely require medical attention. The exception to this is if you are allergic to spider venom and have an allergic reaction, as this will need immediate medical attention. 

    Generally, wolf spiders typically only bite humans if they are handled. It can be quite painful if a wolf spider bites you, but wolf spider bites rarely require medical attention.

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    Wolf spiders are adaptable spiders that strongly prefer the outdoors. There are around 2,300 known species of wolf spiders, with over 100 species in the United States alone, and their living preferences can vary greatly. Wolf spiders are most commonly found in open habitats, such as farm fields, grasslands, and meadows. Some species of wolf spiders are great climbers and will climb into trees and plants during the hunt, but most species of wolf spiders will be found on the ground. A couple of species of wolf spiders are even known to hunt near water and dive into the water to capture their prey, much like fishing spiders do. 

    Wolf spiders will often live inside different structures, which can attract them to your property. Look out for these common wolf spider hiding places: 

    • Under stones
    • Within landscape timbers
    • Wood piles
    • Leaf litter piles
    • Houseplants
    • Debris
    • Grassy areas (good hiding locations) 
    • Along walls (both inside and outside)
    • Under furniture
    • Basements
    • At floor level (very few species are known to prefer climbing up trees and plants) 

    Wolf spiders are also attracted to places with easy access to their preferred food, insects, and other spiders. So, if you have an indoor spider problem or insect infestations, you may attract more wolf spiders to your property. 


    How Do You Get Rid of Wolf Spiders? 

    If you’ve found wolf spiders on your property, it’s understandable that you’d want to get rid of these scary, fearsome spiders. Here are our top tips for getting rid of wolf spiders: 

    • Destroy their hiding places. Wolf spiders are shy spiders who want to be left undisturbed. Use a broom or vacuum to regularly clean common areas that wolf spiders hang out, then note any clutter or opened storage boxes. Clear this clutter and seal off the storage boxes to prevent wolf spiders from hanging around inside. 
    • Patch up any cracks and crevices. If your walls have cracks or crevices, use a caulking product or sealant to close these off so that pests can’t use them to hide in. In addition, check for any holes or tears in window and door screens to prevent pests from entering through them. 
    • Treat existing infestations. If you have a massive house spider infestation, such as hobo spiders, or an insect infestation, immediately treat this problem with pest control products or by calling your exterminator. Wolf spiders are hunters who need to be able to find their next meal, so if you eliminate their food source, this will discourage them from hanging around your property. 
    • Keep up with your landscaping. Use pest control products to create a perimeter around your home and discourage outdoor spiders, like wolf spiders and grass spiders, from entering your home. Clean up any piles of leaves or debris and move wood piles away from your house to keep pests from using these as hiding places. 


    Final Thoughts

    While wolf spiders are not considered a significant danger to humans, they can be distressing to have on your property and may indicate a larger pest problem. If you discover wolf spiders or other common spiders on your property, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pest control professional. A pest control professional can quickly identify what kind of spiders are on your property, treat them, and put your mind at ease knowing that the pest problem is handled.

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