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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
120 thoughts on “Lycosidae – Wolf Spider”
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.
In massachusetts found this in the kitchen , the day before one in the living room I’m guessing a juvenile wolf spider?
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.
Thanks for the reply,my wife and I are glad it’s not a wolf spider or medically significant.
Found this spider drowned on our property in Idaho. Is this a wolf spider? 5/27/2021
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.
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.
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.
Hello Greg, thanks for uploading this great picture! This is a fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus): https://usaspiders.com/dolomedes-fishing-spider/
This is a dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus)
So what kind of spiders are these on the basement walls? I don’t see an answer and I’m curious?
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!
Hello there, this is a wolf spider of the genus Hogna. They are not medically significant: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found this guy in 2nd story hallway of home in Ohio.
Hello Sarah, thanks for getting in touch! This is a grass spider (Agelenopsis sp.), not a wolf spider. It’s not medically significant: https://usaspiders.com/agelenopsis-american-grass-spider/
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.
is this a wolf spider? Found in a house in Kansas.
This one came out of nowhere in the den today. Is it a wolf or an orb weaver?
Hello Steve, this is a wolf spider – most likely in the genus Hogna.
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″.
Bigger than a quarter. Middle of my shop on concrete slab
Hello Marty, thanks for getting in touch! This is a wolf spider: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
It’s not medically significant. The discolorations on the back of the abdomen and the legs appear to be concrete 🙂
Found in dry bath tub. With thick ranndom web . Dead
This is a wolf spider (Lyocsidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
This one was found in my bathtub.
Hello Davina, this is a wolf spider (Geolycosa missouriensis): https://bugguide.net/node/view/1487103
Found this in my basement. Have also seen them in my pole barn.
Overall body around 1” long.
Hello Kevin, thanks for getting in touch! This is a harmless wolf spider (family Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found this in Oklahoma.
Hello Randy, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
The two reflecting eyes are an identification feature.
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.
Hi Jane, thanks for sharing this photo. This is a Geolycosa sp. wolf spider: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
This was in my crawlspace in Lancaster, SC. It was about 4” long.
Hello Ken, thanks for sharing this photo! This is a wolf spider (family Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
This one is most likely of the genus Hogna.
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 😉
Hello Jim, thanks for sharing this great find. This is probably a Tigrosa aspersa. Here is a similar-looking specimen: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1540836
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.
Hello Malcolm, thanks for sharing this shot. This is definitely a wolf spider.
Found in St Augustine FL
Hi Gary, this is a wolf spider (family Lycosidae). It’s most likely the species Hogna radiata: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
I’m in Virginia. Found this one in the leaves in my backyard. Can anyone identify the type?
Hi AB, thanks for getting in touch! This is a wolf spider: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Most likely Tigrosa georgicola.
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)
Hi Jeff, this is a wolf spider: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
The two large eyes are an identification characteristic.
Hello. Found this spider under a piece of plywood. Is it a wolf spider? I am in Virginia. Thanks.
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
Hello Jeb, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
I found this weird spider in my porch in Wolf Point, Montana. About an inch so long. Very ugly and scary.
Hello Julie, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
What is this? Found in kitchen.
Hello Seth, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found this large spider under row cover in my vegetable garden in central Virginia.
Hi Jim, this is a wolf spider with an egg sac.
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.
I thought I sent 2 photos, here is the spider on top of it’s burrow at night.
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/
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.
Hi Greg, this is a wolf spider – Tigrosa annexa. They are easily confused with funnel weavers of the family Agelenidae.
Here is more information about wolf spiders: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
I found this spider on my front steps in Arlington, VA. I thought it might be an Eastern Parson Spider but wasn’t sure.
Hi Elle, this is a wolf spider, possibly in the genus Hogna. This one looks gravid. Here is more information about wolf spiders: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
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.
Hi Dan, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae sp.): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
The bumps on its back are numerous small spiders. Wolf spiders are the only spiders that carry their spiderlings on their back for some time after they hatch.
Found inside on the floor in Salt Lake City, UT. Please ID.
Hello Craig, this is a wolf spider, possibly in the genus Trochosa: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Wife found this crawling in our kitchen in Mundelein, IL. Please ID
Hi Jon, this is a woodlouse hunter (Dysdera crocata): https://usaspiders.com/dysdera-crocata-woodlouse-spider/
This jumped on me in the garden yesterday, in Eastern MD. Looks like a wolf spider with an egg sac, is it a Hogna?
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.
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.
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.
Hi Amber, this is a male wolf spider, family Lycosidae: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found in the grass located near Hocking Hills in Ohio. Fairly large, probably close to palm size
Hi Marena, this is a wolf spider. It is carrying an egg sac with its fangs: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Southern Arizona. Size of my palm.
Hi Jade, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Photographed in the Wayne National Forest near Chauncey, OH during the Fall of 2020.
Hi Michael, thanks for sharing this great shot! This is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found in SW South Dakota. Crawled on ground, then up a tree; slowly. Yellow clumps on abdomen may be eggs?
Hi Curt, this is a wolf spider: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
The yellow clumps are young spiders. Wolf spiders are the only spider family that carries its offpring on their back for several days after they hatched.
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!
Santa Fe, NM
Hi Laura, thanks for sharing this shot! Your ID is correct – this is a wolf spider.
Hi. Found this guy in my shower upstairs. Then my wife found another one that looked the same downstairs. Wolf spiders?
Can someone identify this spider for me?
I found it in our garage in Bellevue WA
This was in our chalk bin this morning.
Hi John, this is a wolf spider (family Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
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.
Hi Nick, this is a wolf spider (family Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
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?
Hi Heidi, this is a wolf spider (family Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
The bumps on the back are numerous spider babies that wolf spiders carry around on their backs.
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.
Hi MLS, this is a wolf spider (family Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
The bumps on the back are numerous spider babies that wolf spiders carry around on their backs.
Found carrying a brownish egg. Didn’t see a web. Spider on bottom. Egg on top
Hi Brooke, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
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.
On Lake Wisconsin
Hi Brent, this is a wolf spider of the genus Rabidosa: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found this spider hanging out at my pool in Monroe, NY. Body is about .5”. July 2022
Hi Dave, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae family). The bumps on its back are spider babies – wolf spiders are the only spiders that carry their offspring on their backs for several days after they hatch.
Found this one in my bathroom. Husband insisted on taking a picture of it.
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?
Hi Wade, yes, this is a wolf spider: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
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.
Found in my bathtub, Kenai Peninsula Alaska.
Hi Julia, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found this spider outside on the shed in the Florida Keys. It moved very quickly.
New office spider
Hi Scott, this is a rabid wolf spider (Rabidosa rabida). Despite their scary name, they are not considered medically significant: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
This spider is easily as large as the palm of my hand. It’s in Parker, Colorado.
Hi Nikki, thanks for sharing this great photo! This is a wolf spider (family Lycosidae). Most likely in the genus Hogna: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
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.
Hi Carol, you are right – this is definitely a wolf spider. You can learn more about them here: https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Central Wisconsin outdoor deck at night time 2300ish.
Hello Bret, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae family): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found this inside our house in the basement in Canton (Southeast) Michigan.
Hi VA, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae family): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found in northern va, almost stepped on it in my apartment. What is this?
Hello Shan, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae family): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
Found in north Texas at garage entrance. Kind of fuzzy, but not really hairy.
Hi Cliff, this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae family): https://usaspiders.com/lycosidae-wolf-spider/
My family and I were enjoying a wonderful winter campfire and this little guy came out to join us.