Wolf Spider (Lycosa Godeffroy)
Some Wolf Spiders are considered “orb-weavers”. That means they make the rounded intricate webs often associated with spiders. Spiders’ silk is made out of protein. When the spider takes apart an old or damaged web it will eat the silk. The silk goes from the spider’s digestive system to the silk glands to be made into new webs. Natural recycling!
There are many varieties of Wolf Spiders, so their appearance varies a lot, but in general most are brown or dark in color with bristles on their eight legs. The body of the wolf spider can be up to 1.2 inches, but if you include the legs the size is up to four inches. They have an exoskeleton that they must shed in order to grow. They molt several times over a lifespan.
Wolf Spiders have eight eyes that give them excellent eyesight day or night. They have three rows of eyes that vary in size with four small, two medium, and two large. One row contains four small eyes and the two other rows have two eyes each. The largest two eyes are in the middle row and on top of the head. The two medium eyes are behind and above the largest eyes. Their eyes reflect light, so if a light is shined on them at night they appear to glow.
Wolf Spiders are fast. They can run up to two feet per second over short distances. They use this speed and excellent strength to pounce on prey and then crush it using their chelicerae — short pincher-like appendages.
Wolf Spiders dig burrows in the ground where they spend their days. They may also use natural crevices in rock walls. As temperatures drop they move closer to houses and garages. Some Wolf Spiders are ambush hunters that wait in the burrows for prey to pass by and they jump out and grab it. They can also come out at night to spin a web to catch prey.
Wolf Spiders have flexible abdomens, so they can eat a lot when food is abundant. They can also slow their metabolism to conserve resources when food is scare. They are considered to have one of the greatest geographic distributions of all spiders.
They disburse aerially, so they can be found in most terrestrial environments. They prefer places where easy prey can be found, such as around houses.
They can be found all over the world. Their 125 species can be found in all parts of the United States.
Female Wolf Spiders can be very aggressive. The male approaches the female carefully. After mating the male no longer plays a role. The female will attach an egg sac to spinnerets and carry the sac with her until the eggs hatch. This unique trait looks like a shiny white silky area at the end of her body. Once the spiderlings are hatched, they climb onto her back and stay there until they are fully developed, usually after they go through their first molt, living off their egg yolks (from their egg). This could take weeks. They go everywhere with the mother, including hunting. If one falls off, the mother will stop what she is doing until it is back on top!
Carnivores. Their prey consists of crickets, ants, flies, mealworms, beetles and cockroaches.
The life span is one season and rarely exceeds 18 months in the wild or in human care.