Lycosidae – Wolf Spider

The Lycosidae, commonly called wolf spiders are a family of hunter spiders found throughout the United States and the rest of the world.

There are many species of the Wolf Spider in North America, many of which look very similar. Twice in the past I asked an entomologist (both times were different entomologists) to help me identify the different Wolf Spiders that have been sent to me. Both times, they turned me down for the same reason. It is simply too hard to identify the different species of Wolf Spiders without putting the spider under the microscope to look at the genitalia.

Wolf spider lycosidae
A North American wolf spider. Photography by: Anna M. – Traverse City, Michigan

So I learned not to try to do this myself. The information listed is for the Wolf Spider in general and not for any particular species.

A common species of the Wolf Spider is very similar to the common American Grass Spider or the Nursery Web Spider. They often do not have quite the same striping but the best way to tell them apart is by the eye pattern as described below.

Description

The descriptions change from one wolf spider to another, but there are some more common characteristics. The  general shape is of a thick set spider with thicker legs meant for walking, rather than hanging in webs.

The best way for the common  person to recognize a Wolf Spider is by the eyes. Wolf Spiders have a horizontal row of four smaller eyes. Above those  four eyes, is a pair of larger eyes, and above those, is another pair of smaller eyes.

Wolf spider USA
Photography by: Cara Salustro – Baldwin, Michigan

Size

The Wolf Spider can come in all sizes. There are some you will see running around in grass that are only about 3/8” (10 mm), while some species of the Wolf Spider reaches up to around 3” (76 mm). (These sizes include the legs)

Web

The Wolf Spider is a hunting spider and will wander in search of its prey. They usually do not spin webs like most spiders do. Though they have the ability to, they often only do so to attach their eggs to their abdomen and carry them around. Once the babies hatch, they will continue to ride around on the mother’s back until they are large enough to fend for themselves.

Bites

The bite from a Wolf Spider can cause some pain, redness and swelling. In some cases, swollen Lymph glands may occur and the skin area at the bite can turn black. Swelling and Pain can last up to 10 days. On a very rare occasion, a bite can cause necrotic lesions similar to the Recluse or Hobo Spider (Neither of which is in Michigan) but nowhere as severe.

The Wolf Spider has a reputation as a dangerous spider that is not deserved and is listed as a low risk danger. They are also one of the more common spiders in the United States. In the fall time, males will wander in search for a mate and sometimes be drawn to the warmer temperatures of our homes. Because of this, it is not uncommon to find them running across our floors during Fall.

Lycosidae Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Lycosoidea
  • Genus: Lycosidae

Distribution of wolf spiders in the USA

Wolf spider range USA

Various wolf spider species can be found throughout the United States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Pictures of North American wolf spiders

  • Wolf spider
  • Rabid wolf spider
  • Wolf spider in Montana
  • North American wolf spider
  • Wolf spider photo
  • Lycosidae wolf spider in Michigan
  • Wolf spider Virginia
  • Wolf spider in Colorado
  • Rabid wolf spider in grass Virginia
  • Black-Wolf-Spider-Brenda-Ohio
  • Black-Wolf-Spider-Debbie-Virginia
  • Black-Wolf-Spider-Kelly-Alabama
  • Black-Wolf-Spider-Lanie-Kansas
  • Brown-Striped-Wolf-Spider-Jay-Arkansas
  • Brown-Wolf-Spider-Bryan-Texas
  • Coin-sized-Wolf-Spider-Kim-Kentucky
  • Female-Medium-sized-Wolf-Spider-Abby-South-Carolina
  • Small-Black-Wolf-Spider-Rbnhd76-South-Georgia
  • Nice-looking-color-and-pattern-Wolf-Spider-Rachelle-Arkansas
  • Light-Gray-Black-colored-Wolf-Spider-Kyle-Missouri
  • Light-Colored-Wolf-Spider-Tim-Texas
  • Light-Brown-Spider-Divina-Michigan
  • Large-Wolf-Spider-His-Michigan
  • Large-Wolf-Spider-Cyndi-Utah
  • Large-Dark-Fuzzy-Wolf-Spider-Michelle-Tennessee
Lycosidae – Wolf Spider

111 thoughts on “Lycosidae – Wolf Spider

  1. Thank you! I kinda thought so. I should have kept the molt. How exciting!

    I bonded with this gorgeous arachnid in my garage one night. The next night I found another slightly smaller spider next her (?), dead. After watching her for another day, I cupped her and placed her in a vine outside. I’ve been looking for her identity ever since. She was a light brown/tan, big, sturdy, but graceful, with a dark, broadly striped carapace and abdomen. Smooth, rangy, muscular legs. A real beauty.

  2. In massachusetts found this in the kitchen , the day before one in the living room I’m guessing a juvenile wolf spider?

    1. Hi Frank, thanks for getting in touch! This is not a wolf spider. It’s a male Coras sp. funnel-weaving spider of the family Agelenidae. It’s not medically significant.

  3. usaspiders
    Thanks for the reply,my wife and I are glad it’s not a wolf spider or medically significant.
    Much appreciated
    Frank D

  4. 1st of two large spiders found on our property in Idaho in the past couple of weeks. 5/16/21. This spider was being dragged by a small wasp. It had a really fat body and was probably dime-sized.

    1. Hi Heather, thanks for uploading this shot! It’s really hard to tell from tis angle what type of spider it is. It’s definitely not one of the medically significant spiders. It could be some light-colored trapdoor spider (Ctenizidae sp.). But this is simply a guess.

  5. We think this is some type of wolf spider. It’s about 3 inches long including legs , and extremely fast. It hung out on a screen outside the kitchen window for at least three hours. No visible web.

  6. This big boy was found in the track of my sliding door at my lake house in N. Michigan. He was very large like almost my hand including his legs. What a cool shield on his back! Thanks!

  7. This (probably? I’d love to know) wolf spider was living between a window sill and a removable AC unit for at most five months. The spider came into the house when the unit was removed and is behind a bookcase. The scale bar is based on the width of the floorboards, which have been cropped out in this version of the image.

  8. Found this little one in my bathtub, southern Kentucky. Are they wolf spiders and can they come up from the septic tank? Seems i always find them in the bathtub. There was another one found in my living room yesterday (both released outside unharmed). Entire body just slightly more than 1/4″.

  9. We are in Jacksonville, Florida. This spider was located on our front door & is about the size of a quarter. We are native to the state & seen our share of spiders! This one has us stumped. Thanks for any info you can provide to identify it.

  10. Found this wolf spider in my basement in Northern Virginia, about 2 miles from the Potomac.

    I used a pint glass to catch it, a small glass just seemed dangerous 😉

  11. A coworker found this spider on one of the walls of our buildings on campus and we are curious if it is a Wolf spider or something else.

      1. Found one of these in my chickens water dish. I set it loose and it lived to swim another day. Thanks for the identification help. It’s not a wolf spider I typically see. With its legs it was about the size of my palm.

        Location: Spencer, Tennessee (about 30 minutes south of Cookeville and an hour north of Chattanooga)

  12. Hello. Found this spider under a piece of plywood. Is it a wolf spider? I am in Virginia. Thanks.

  13. for reference, that is a 4X4 post. Body around 1.5”. The White stripe on its back is confusing me as well as leg coloration. Montgomery, AL

  14. This spider is in a hole in the ground. It has no trap door on the top. It’s body is bigger than an inch long. There is a thin ‘trip wire’ type line outside the burrow. I took the pics at night. I think the tiny things are ants? I am in North Central Texas. The body and knees of the spider are somewhat fuzzy but not super hairy.

    1. Hello Deborah, great find! This is a burrowing wolf spider (Geolycosa sp.). The tiny things are probably spiderlings about to leave the burrow. Wolf spiders carry their offspring on their backs until they are old enough to leave the mother.
      Here is more info about wolf spiders: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/

  15. Found in the middle of the garage with nothing around it at all. Have also found one on a wall near the front door to the house and another in the bathroom in the middle of the floor.

  16. I found this spider on my front steps in Arlington, VA. I thought it might be an Eastern Parson Spider but wasn’t sure.

  17. Saw this spider at about 8pm on a gravel rd on my property in Cumming, GA (about 25 miles north of Atlanta). It is dark brown (the photo makes it look more gray that what I observed) with light spots. The body is very bumpy and the spots are on the tips of the bumps. The same color appears as bands on the legs. The texture of the skin appears very rough and not smooth. I didn’t see spinerettes or any other distinguishing marks.

  18. This jumped on me in the garden yesterday, in Eastern MD. Looks like a wolf spider with an egg sac, is it a Hogna?

  19. Found this one in the house in Wasilla, Alaska. It could easily fit on a quarter, was a little hairy and seems to have small spinnerets.

    1. First time seen. Crossing my back yard at night, almost ran into this monster.
      I would estimate body was 1″ – 1.5″
      I wasn’t walking around to get the top (sorry) the web anchors covered every path around it.

      1. Hi S Hansford, unfortunately, I can’t see any detail features of the spider on the image. This is definitely a harmless orbweaver of the family Araneidae. The body shape makes me think of a tropical orbweaver (Eriophora ravilla): https://usaspiders.com/tropical-orb-weaver-eriophora-ravilla/
        It could also be a spider in the genus Araneus – possibly Araneus gemmoides or Araneus diadematus. Your location in the U.S. would help narrow down the options.

  20. Found in the grass located near Hocking Hills in Ohio. Fairly large, probably close to palm size

  21. Found in SW South Dakota. Crawled on ground, then up a tree; slowly. Yellow clumps on abdomen may be eggs?

  22. I found this interesting spider walking around my kitchen at night. It has 8 eyes, in the configuration of a wolf spider, but different coloration than what I’ve found online. The body was about 1 inch long, with long, thick, somewhat hairy legs. Young wolf spider, perhaps? Thanks for your help!
    Laura R
    Santa Fe, NM

  23. Hi. Found this guy in my shower upstairs. Then my wife found another one that looked the same downstairs. Wolf spiders?

  24. Seem to see these quite often in our condo, mainly in the bathroom. From leg tip to leg tip, size is about a quarter to half dollar.

  25. I came across this spider last night on my walkway. I live in rural Arkansas. The body is about the size of a half dollar and is mottled black and grey. The head is black with a grey stripe down the middle. The body and legs appeared to be smooth, no hair. Any idea what kind of spider this is?

  26. Found 7/1/22 on tree trunk on my propriety near Ada OK. Scary and big. Body alone about 1-1/2″. Body plus legs about 3-1/3″. Unable to ID anywhere and have never seen one before.

    P.S. Resending since wasn’t sure it went thru the first time.

  27. Hi. I found this spider around 7am in Louisiana. It was sitting in the middle of the walking path on the water garden at my apartment complex. It was petty large, I’m estimating the legs to be about 4 inches. The body is probably about 2-3 inches long. About the size of my palm. It was black and shiny. I was too nervous to get closer to take a better picture. This is the first time I’ve seen this spider; are you able to identify it? Thank you for taking a look.

  28. I’m in Arizona and this looks like a wolf spider. It was fairly large, bigger than a penny. It did not have the trademark fiddle for a brown recluse.
    Is it a wolf spider?

  29. Hi, found this huge spider on the side of my house in southern MN. He/she was big enough that I very much didn’t want to get any closer, so sorry for the blurry picture.

  30. Hello, I found this spider in my dog’s food dish in my kitchen. It is about 2 inches long including the legs. I live in central Ohio. The closest spider that I could match it to was the Wolf Spider but it seems to not be a perfect match. A positive identification would be greatly appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 15 MB. You can upload: image. Drop file here

Scroll to top