Spiders are almost always unwelcome guests in the home, but perhaps none more so than the wolf spider. This large, hairy, quick-moving arachnid is found throughout the United States, and the world, and loves to sneak up and scare people in their homes. Learn about these unusual spiders, how to identify them, where they live, and how to get rid of them in your home.
Many people fear wolf spiders, and they don’t seem to look or act like other spiders out there. Unlike the majority of their brethren, wolf spiders don’t spin webs to catch prey. Instead, they hunt insects (like the wolves for which they’re named), using their excellent eyesight and superior speed. Wolf spiders are part of the Lycosidae family. There are over 2,300 various species of wolf spiders, 200 of which live in the United States.
While they’re terrifying for smaller arachnids, they really pose little threat to humans. They might bite if provoked, but for the most part, they focus on hunting for food.
Wolf spiders have a very distinct appearance. They are most often confused with tarantulas, but they have multiple distinguishing characteristics that set them apart. They are very hairy and have distinct markings on their backs that some people say look like the British flag.
Each spider has eight eyes, which are prominent and often seem to glow in the dark. They have eight legs, like all spiders, which have bands the same color as the markings on their backs. They can range in size from a half-inch to over two inches in size depending on the specifics of their genus and species.
Wolf spiders live all over the world, including in the United States. While their landscape preferences include flat, grassy areas, like meadows and grasslands, wolf spiders are very adaptable and can live in nearly every type of landscape, including deserts, rainforests, and mountains. They do prefer warmth, so people tend to find wolf spiders indoors when the weather turns cooler.
Wolf spiders can bite when they feel scared or threatened. While they are venomous, their bites won’t do lasting damage. Most people experience some itching and swelling that resolves within a few days. Despite this, wolf spider bites are not ideal, so it’s best to keep them out of your home whenever possible.
If you do find wolf spiders in your home, they could indicate the presence of other insects, since that’s what they hunt and eat.
If you see a wolf spider in your home, avoid squishing it. If it’s a female carrying her eggs, squishing the spider could send baby spiders scuttling all over your house. Instead, try and shoo the spider away with a broom or other long tool to keep the spider from biting you. Then, consider calling a professional pest control company to help eliminate the wolf spider population in your house and any other insects that may be there as well.
The best way to keep wolf spiders out is to ensure your home is well protected against their entry. Seal any cracks or holes on the exterior. Keep exterior landscaping trimmed and away from the structure of the house. Any lawn waste or supplies like firewood should be kept off the ground and at least 5 feet away from the walls of your home.
Consider these frequently asked questions about wolf spiders to learn more about how to protect yourself and your family from them.
Like many other spiders, wolf spiders eat annoying and pesky insects. Wolf spiders outdoors help control insect populations, making it more pleasant for us humans. However, while they’re great outside, wolf spiders in your home could bite you or a member of your family if they feel provoked. It’s best they remain outside and for you take steps to protect your home against wolf spiders.
Wolf spiders are very active and quick. In addition to running after prey, they have been known to jump on insects in order to surprise them and hold them down before biting them. However, it’s unlikely they would jump on a human — wolf spiders are generally wary of creatures larger than themselves.
An infestation of wolf spiders in your home is often a sign that you have a pest problem. Wolf spiders go where they can find food, so if there are several in your home, it’s probably because they’re finding ample food. Contact a professional to help you rid your home of both the wolf spiders and their food source.
Wolf spider bites are usually relatively innocuous and don’t require medical treatment. However, you should take precautions in certain situations. If an infant or young toddler is bitten and seems inconsolable, a trip to the doctor is in order to ensure they’re OK. Likewise, for spider bite victims of any age, keep an eye on the bite and look for signs of serious infection like fever, excessive, long-lasting swelling, or intense pain. Usually, wolf spider bites clear up in a few days without treatment.
No one likes seeing wolf spiders scurrying across their living room floor. While they likely won’t cause you harm or injury, their presence could signify a larger pest problem. If you see multiple wolf spiders in your house, it’s best to address it right away.