Size: These venomous spiders are usually a 1/2 inch in length, with a shiny black body, long thin legs and large oval abdomen. Females typically exhibit a red "hourglass" pattern on the underside of the abdomen, but this is not always the case.
Color: Usually shiny black but may also be various shades of brown or mottled brown and white.
Habits: The black widow spider weaves a very strong but formless and erratic web close to the ground and can often be found in drain pipes, under outhouse toilet seats and beneath logs and rocks. The tips of the spider's legs are oily to prevent it from becoming stuck in its own web. It can usually be found hiding belly up in its web waiting to catch prey.
What Do Black Widow Spiders Eat?: Both males and females construct webs to capture their prey, which includes flies, moths and crickets and may also consist of reptiles and other small animals. Their fangs inject venom as well as digestive juices into the prey. This method not only kills the prey, but also liquefies its flesh so the spider can eat it more easily.
Reproduction: A female black widow can produce up to nine egg sacs with an average of 300 to 400 eggs in each sac. The sacs are about 1/2 inch in diameter and have a smooth surface. The newly hatched spiderlings emerge from the sac and remain close to it for a day or two. Although they are not poisonous, they are cannibalistic and will often eat one another. After a few days the spiderlings climb to high points, release a strand of webbing and propel themselves to other locations in a process known as ballooning.
Other Information: The black widow spider is the most dangerous North American spider because they inject a neurotoxin when they bite, the effect of which can be serious and even fatal. A bite results in extreme pain and cramping that can take several days to diminish. Many people are bitten when they pick up a log or other item the spider is hiding under.
Size: Wolf spiders vary in size from small species with only 1/2 inch leg spans to large ones whose legs may stretch out 5 inches.
Color: Wolf spiders are long legged and covered with short hairs, gray to brown to dark brown in color, and have several darker stripes.
Habits: Wolf spiders are large, hairy spiders not associated with a web. In fact, they only use silk for lining their nest and covering their eggs. They are very mobile, very fast, and very aggressive when threatened. Smaller species have been knows to run across the water of a swimming pool, suspended on the surface tension of the water. Retreats for the spiders are holes in the soil, under debris on the ground or within woodpiles. They commonly enter structures and can be found running across floors or walls as they search for food.
What Do Wolf Spiders Eat?: Wolf spiders are hunters and hunt for insect prey under cover of night.
Reproduction: The female constructs an egg sac of white papery silk, which she carries around attached with strong silk to her spinnerets. When the spiderlings hatch, they are carried around on the females back until they are ready to disperse by ballooning to the ground.
Other Information: Wolf spiders are often confused with the brown recluse, but they lack the violin-shaped marking behind the head. The wolf spider is shy and runs away when disturbed.
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