Wolf Spiders:  Family Lycosidae




Lepthyphantes sp.       © Photo A.Tanasevitch



Unknown species     © Photo A. Pokorný


     © African Wolf Spider


The wolf spider was given its name by people in England who once thought they hunted in groups likes wolves. The scientific name comes from Lycosidae, a cosmopolitan family of relatively large active ground spiders that catch their prey by pursuit, rather than by a web.

Physical Description

Wolf Spiders vary from ˝ to 2 inches in length, are fairly hairy and are known to be easily confused with the venomous brown recluse. Their stout body shape and elongated legs helps these spiders to attack prey with great force.



Although Wolf spiders can be found as a common species in your back woods on the ground level, they are distributed throughout dry inland shrub lands to wet coastal forests. Their ability to disperse aerially is a major cause for their wide range of habitats.


Wolf spiders have the ability, like all spiders, to build a web but their keen eyesight and long legs are efficient enough to support their hunting lifestyle. They hunt day or night, depending on the species.



Although Wolf spiders are common during the day and at night, it is easiest to find them when it is atleast 60 degrees outside. They tend to live in numbers and some build burrows with trapdoor. Catching one of these spiders is best done at night; when a light hits a wolf spiders at night, it will reflect the light because of the tapetum which is located on their eyes. Their unique eye shine will be a dead give away to their whereabouts. They also cannot climb vertically on smooth surfaces, so catching them in a jar proves to be efficient.


Catching a spider is not a threat to one’s health since Wolf spiders to not pose a very large threat to humans. They rarely bite and if they do the pain is restricted to common symptoms of swelling or itchiness.