Usually Hairy, Burrow Dwelling Spider
Wolf spiders, unusually hairy arachnids, can grow up to 35 mm (or an inch and a half) long. They are black, gray and brown in color, fast and agile. Wolf spiders usually create chaos and fear when they are discovered by homeowners. Wolf spiders are also often confused for tarantulas, nursery web and fishing spiders and the infamous brown recluse spider.
Wolf spiders belong to a large family of spiders, most of which are large. While spiders generally catch their prey in webs, wolf spiders hunt their prey. Because they have powerful bodies and excellent eyesight, they are great predators.
According to Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal, arachnologist at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, wolf spiders have a “distinctive eye arrangement, where the front or anterior row is composed of four small eyes of roughly the same size arranged in almost a straight row. The back or posterior row is arranged in a V-pattern with the apex next to the anterior row.” They have superior night vision and are primarily nocturnal hunters. “They are also quite easily detected at night due to their eyeshine.”
Wolf spiders can be found in woodlands and dry, inland shrub lands to wet, coastal forests and alpine meadows. Some wolf spider species live in suburban gardens, coastal sand dunes, mountain herb fields or riverbank gravel beds. Wolf spiders are not web slingers or dwellers. Instead they live in burrows that may be open or sealed with silken doors. Some wolf spiders will plug their burrows with pebbles and build turrets to deflect floodwater.
During the beginning of the fall season, wolf spiders search for warmer habitats. This is when they are likely to creep into homes. They are usually discovered in windows, doors, garages, basements and houseplants. The Carolina wolf spider is the largest documented wolf spider in the United States.
The bite of the wolf spider is not a serious threat to average adults. They usually do not bite unless threatened or provoked. Wolf spiders first course of action is to retreat or rear up on their legs and expose their large fangs.