Lakeside Nature Center

Critter Corner - Wolf Spider


Wolf spiders were so named because people once thought they hunted in packs like wolves.  Scientists now know that a wolf spider lives alone and will sometimes occupy the same burrow its entire life.


The wolf spider is an ambush predator.  It sis in wait for its insect victim to wander by, then with lightning speed grabs its prey and injects venom.  The wolf spider's venom turns the victim's internal organs to mush, which the spider sucks up through hollow fangs.  Wolf spiders are not picky eaters  They will consume almost any insect.  They are even cannibalistic.



Male wolf spiders attract females by waving their pedipalps (leg-like front appendages up and down.  After mating, the mother spider finds a safe place and spins a sheet of silk in which she lays her eggs.  She then bundles up the eggs and spins more silk around them for safety.  She attaches the bundle to her abdomen (actually to her spinnerets) and carries it around with her.  About a month later the spiderlings hatch and crawl up onto Mom's back and ride around for about a week.  Wolf spiders live about two years.


Wolf spiders are found all over the world and can live in a variety of habitats.  They may be found in or around human dwellings in the fall when they look for warm places to spend the winter.


Wolf spider venom is not poisonous to humans.  The wolf spider's best defense is making a quick getaway.  They have eight eyes arranged in pairs that help them see predators and prey.  Because it takes time for their bodies to produce more venom, wolf spiders save the venom for killing prey; they bite a predator only as a last resort.


  • Baby spiderlings often travel by ballooning, or spinning silk parachutes, so the wind can carry them to new locations.

  • Like all spiders, wolf spiders molt or shed their skin as they grow.

  • Wolf spiders do not spin webs; they dig burrows instead.

 (Photo credits: Spider on leaf, Missouri Department of Conservation; Spider in tunnel, openoptia; Spider with babies, Nevada State Agricultural Newsletter; Spider closeup, Claremont College (University of Cincinnati) biology department)

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