What to Know About Wolf Spiders (2024)

The wolf spider (Hogna aspersa) is a hunting spider with a striped, hairy, exceedingly large body, sometimes up to 2 inches long. Wolf spiders are a very common sight in many places across the United States, where scientists have identified more than 125 species.

Though the wolf spider is not aggressive or venomous, it has a harmful bite, so it's best to avoid it when you see one. Wolf spiders live and hunt alone and have a wolflike habit of chasing down their prey. Keep these facts about the creature in mind as you spend time outdoors.

Wolf Spider Facts

  • Wolf spiders do not spin webs.
  • They are fast runners, running up to 2 feet a second.
  • Like wolves, these solitary hunters stalk their prey and pounce to attack.

What to Know About Wolf Spiders (1)

Identifying Wolf Spiders

The average wolf spider is 1/2 to 2 inches long. Female wolf spiders are typically larger than males. Wolf spiders are identifiable thanks to their hairy body, which ranges from orangish-brown to gray or black and features splotches or stripes that give them a camouflaged look.

The eight eyes of the wolf spider are set in three rows of three different sizes, with two medium-sized eyes on top of its head, two large eyes front and center, and four small eyes below those. Like all spiders, the wolf spider has eight legs but has two additional tiny leg-like appendages (pedipalps) extending out the front of its face.

The young wolf spiders look much the same as the adults, although their coloring may vary or change as they grow. Mother spidersmay sometimes be seen with the young riding on their backs or bellies until they are independent enough to go off on their own.

Biology of Wolf Spiders

Male wolf spiders typically live for one year, while females can live for several years. They make their home in ground burrows.

After a courtship ritual and mating, females sometimes eat the male. The female then lays a clutch of about 100 eggs, wrapping them in a silk ball and attaching and carrying the egg case from her abdomen. The egg sac is placed in the burrow at night, but a female will bring the egg case to the surface to warm during the day.

After hatching, the spiderlings cling to their mother's back until they are large enough to leave her, usually after two weeks. Spiderlings grow by shedding their skins and emerging as fully grown adults.

Are Wolf Spiders Dangerous?

Wolf spiders are not aggressive and will not bite unless frightened or provoked. Although theirbite is not deadly, it can be very painful. Wolf spiders typically only bite humans if they are handled or touched. They usually avoid humans and run away when people are nearby.

Like their namesake animal, wolf spiders chase and leap on their prey instead of weaving a web to entrap them. Their diet typically consists of insects like other small spiders, ants, grasshoppers, and more—though they have been known to also hunt small frogs and other reptiles. Wolf spiders are nocturnal creatures and will do the majority of their hunting and wandering at night.

This solitary spider hunts on the ground, which is why it has earned two more common names: ground spider and hunting spider. It can run, climb, and swim but rarely does so unless it is stalking prey. Unlike theorb-weaver spider, whichoperates primarily by feel, the wolf spider communicates with its vision. For example, when a spider waves its front legs to another wolf spider, the second spiderknows precisely what it means.

Wolf Spider Habitat

Wolf spiders live in many regions of the United States but are typically concentrated in Missouri,Texas, and California. They are commonly found in open areas such as grasslands and meadows with plenty of insects to feed on. They can also be harbored infirewood,ground tunnels,under leaf piles, and other ground clutter.

In some areas, wolf spiderscan be a very common pest in the fall when seeking shelter from the cooling temperatures, a practice that often drives them indoors. They may be found around door or window frames, in houseplants, and in basem*nts and garages. They do not like people and will likely scurry away when they hear your footsteps.

Wolf Spider Control

It is fairly challenging to control wolf spiders or eradicate them entirely from your property, especially considering they must come in direct physical contact with any pesticide to die. Because these spiders are solitary creatures, they are generally spotted alone, and killing off individual spiders can be tedious and daunting.

To help dissuade wolf spiders from entering your home, seal up any cracks, crevices, gaps, and other openings, concentrating on the exterior structure, foundation, doors, and windows. Discarding piles of old paper and boxes and keeping your home clean can also help reduce potential spots where the spiders may seek shelter.

When using any pesticide to control insects, it is always best to enlist a professional who can recommend the best course of action for your specific home and problem. If you choose to spray on your own, be sure to read andfollow all label directions closely.

Ensure the site (indoors, along the foundation, outside, etc.) is listed on the label, and use only products labeled for spiders or nuisance pests. Additionally, it's a good idea to keep any pets or young children away from the application site for the recommended time after spraying or applying pesticides.

Wolf Spider vs. Brown Recluse

Neither wolf nor brown recluse spiders are inherently aggressive towards humans. They are distinctive from each other with a few telling signs:

  • Reaction to humans: Brown recluses will scurry away when confronted; however, wolf spiders might stand their ground.
  • Habitat preference: Brown recluses, like their name, are reclusive and do not like to live near a lot of human activity. But when given a choice, brown recluses prefer to live inside homes in hidden spots like basem*nts or attics. Wolf spiders prefer living outdoors and shy away from human activity, but they are not uncommon to be found near human activity.
  • Color and markings: Wolf spiders can be brown, black, or gray, while brown recluses are only brown. Brown recluses have a violin-shaped mark on their back, while wolf spiders do not.
  • Size: Brown recluses are smaller (1/4 to 1/2 inch) and have six eyes. A wolf spider is much larger (up to 2 inches) and has eight eyes.


  • Are wolf spiders harmful to have in your home?

    They're harmless unless handled, but their bites are painful.

  • What causes wolf spiders in your house?

    Wolf spiders are hunters, and they will follow their prey inside your home if necessary. Close cracks where pests can slip through. Keep your house clean and crumb-free so you don't attract other pests, such as ants and flies, that wolf spiders want to eat.

  • Do wolf spiders eat brown recluse spiders?

    Wolf spiders will prey on brown recluse spiders, especially the baby brown recluses, only if there's a food shortage.

What to Know About Wolf Spiders (2024)
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