Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae)
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Wolf Spiders (Hogna)
Types of Spiders
Wolf spiders (family Lycosidae) belong to the hunting spider category.
They walk, or more often run, along the ground and among rocks and leaf piles searching out prey.
Over a dozen different genera, consisting of over two hundred species call some part of the United States home, making them one of the most abundant and commonly seen spiders.
Identifying a wolf spider usually begins by seeing the broad outline of a dull brown, gray or black body, which has a light color stripe on the middle of the cephlothorax.
The abdomen may or may not have a stripe pattern. While they do share physical similarities with funnel web spiders, the typical wolf spider does not have extended spinnerets visible on the bottom of the abdomen.
One exception to the general identification rule exists for the Genus Sosippus, or Funnel Web Wolf Spiders.
Different Lycosidae species range in size from the smaller thin legged wolf spiders to the largest species of the Hogna genus, which can grow to three inches in length, including the leg span.
Females, like the one in the first picture, carry their egg sac around with them. Once born, the young spiders remain on the female's back for a couple of weeks.
Despite the name, the rabid wolf spider (Genus Rabidosa), picture two, is not an aggressive, rabies carrying scourge of the earth.
In fact, rabid wolf spiders are a fairly common and docile eastern wolf spider genera.
Most Raidosa species measure around one inch in length and share the physical characteristic of having distinct light stripes on a brown body. The picture highlights a chevron pattern on the bottom of the abdomen.
Thanks to B.D. of Fayetteville, NC for the great photograph.
Leg dimensions compared to other wolf spiders accounts for the common name thin-legged wolf spiders (Genus Pardosa).
Apart from legs, thin-legged wolf spiders generally lack other distinguishing physical characteristics.
Without a clear view of the body pattern and legs on any particular specimen, it is often difficult to identify them at the genus or species level.
The National Institute of Health has a couple of articles about wolf spider bites and they summarize them as follows,
"Because of their dark color and hunting habits, wolf spiders (Lycosidae) are often confused with the much more dangerous brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa). Unlike the brown recluse spider, wolf spider envenomation seldom causes cutaneous necrosis or systemic symptoms."
Like all spiders, wolf spiders bite, but their bite is considered more annoying than dangerous.
© 2005-2011 Patricia A. Michaels