Wolf Spiders

Wolf spiders are robust and agile hunters with good eyesight. They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone. Some are opportunistic hunters pouncing upon prey as they find it or even chasing it over short distances. Some will even wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of a burrow.

Wolf spiders resemble Nursery web spiders, but they carry their egg sacs by attaching them to their spinnerets (Pisauridae carry their egg sacs with their chelicerae and pedipalps). Two of the Wolf spider’s eight eyes are large and prominent, which distinguishes them from the Nursery web spiders whose eyes are all of approximately equal size.

Description

There are many genera of wolf spider, ranging in body size from less than 1 to 30 millimetres (0.04 to 1.18 in). They have eight eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consists of four small eyes, the middle row has two very large eyes (which distinguishes them from the Pisauridae), and the top row has two medium-sized eyes. They depend on their excellent eyesight to hunt. They also possess an acute sense of touch.

Their eyes reflect light well, allowing someone with a flashlight to easily hunt for them at night. Flashing a beam of light over the spider will produce eyeshine. The light from the flashlight has been reflected from the spider’s eyes directly back toward its source, producing a “glow” that is easily noticed. This is also especially helpful because the wolf spiders are nocturnal and will be out hunting for food, making it easier to find them.

Wolf spider carrying her young

Wolf spiders are unique in the way that they carry their eggs. The egg sac, a round silken globe, is attached to the spinnerets at the end of the abdomen, allowing the spider to carry her unborn young with her. The abdomen must be held in a raised position to keep the egg case from dragging on the ground, however despite this handicap they are still capable of hunting. Another aspect unique to wolf spiders is their method of infant care. Immediately after the spiderlings emerge from their protective silken case, they clamber up their mother’s legs and crowd onto her abdomen.

Because they depend on camouflage for protection, they do not have the flashy appearance of some other kinds of spiders. In general their coloration is appropriate to their favorite habitat.

Wolf spiders will inject venom freely if continually provoked. Symptoms of their venomous bite include swelling, mild pain and itching. Though usually considered harmless to humans, the bite of some species may be painful. In the past, necrotic bites have been attributed to some South American species, but further investigation has indicated that those problems that did occur were probably actually due to bites by members of other genera.

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