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A close-up picture of a wolf spider on the ground

Wolf Spiders – The Bark is Worse Than The Bite (…but they do bite!)

What do you get when you cross a spider with a werewolf? We’re not sure either – but it might be something close to a wolf spider. They certainly look like it! But are wolf spiders really that dangerous? Let’s take a look…

What does a Wolf Spider look like?

The term “wolf spider” refers to a collection of species of spiders with similar characteristics. Generally, they can reach up to 2 inches in length and are very hairy. Color-wise, they are usually a dull gray or brown color, and may include a striping or spotting pattern of grays, browns, and even orange. Males tend to be smaller than females, and they also feature two palps in the front that contain sperm for mating. (Palps are short appendages that kind of resemble really small legs.) The females have the distinction of being the rare type of spider that carries their young on their back after hatching. These spiders are easy to see at night with a flashlight or headlight, since their eyes are highly reflective.

Do Wolf Spiders live in Arizona?

They sure do! Wolf spiders in the desert tend to live in burrows in the ground. They may take over an abandoned rodent hole, or dig their own. Once they find a home, they will line and seal it with their silk webbing. If you see them out, usually at night, they are likely either hunting for food or a mate. When hungry, they hunt and pounce their prey, rather than spin a web and wait for prey to get caught. They generally prey on insects and other spiders, including other wolf spiders. They are most active in the summer and early fall, which is also their mating season. If they make it into your home, they are likely to take up shop in your houseplants or in well-concealed areas, like storage closets, under furniture, or in piles of clutter.

Are Wolf Spiders dangerous?

Well, they do bite. But like most spiders, only when provoked or threatened. They are not aggressive and generally try to avoid contact with humans. Their bites are not fatal but can be pretty painful. The pain can last for several days but cold compresses can help, along with over the counter medications including pain relievers and antihistamines. If you think you might be allergic, or if they symptoms seem concerning to you, we highly recommend seeking medical attention as soon as possible.

Wolf Spiders are solitary, so they are not likely to “infest” your home. You will likely only see one or two, if any, in your home.

Are Brown Recluses a type of Wolf Spider?

Nope! Admittedly, they have some similarities in their appearance, but they are different in many important ways. For one thing, Wolf Spiders are bigger, and their venom is less potent. Brown Recluses are smaller, and carry a violin-shaped marking on their backs. Also, Brown Recluses reside in webs, where Wolf Spiders reside in burrows.

How can I prevent getting Wolf Spiders?

You can greatly reduce or eliminate the presence of wolf spiders in your home by keeping your house clean and free of clutter, and by keeping up on your yard work. (These spiders like to hide under vegetative overgrowth, piles of leaves, etc.) A monthly pest control service will also help by eliminating their prey supply in your house, causing them to seek greener pastures.

Check out our other posts on spiders here!

Main photo by jeans_Photos on Foter.com / CC BY