Florida is arguably one of the most biodiverse states in the contiguous United States and is home to a great number of different species of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, and arachnids. There are approximately 60 different species of spiders in Florida, but in this article, we will be focusing on one type of spider in particular, the wolf spiders in Florida.
8 Species of Wolf Spiders in Florida
There are several types of wolf spiders in Florida, and some of these species may not even have an established common name. Furthermore, there might not be much known about some of these species and their biology due to their secretive nature and the fact that invertebrates tend to be understudied.
1. Tigrosa annexa
This species of a wolf spider is the smallest species in this genus, growing to a mere 10-18 millimeters. They are a pale yellow color, with a dark V-shaped marking on their bodies.
They can be found on the east coast of the United States from Delaware and south to the Florida Keys and as far west as Texas. These spiders tend to prefer drier, sandier habitats.
2. Rabid wolf spider
Scientific name: Rabidosa rabida
Rabid wolf spiders are a relatively large species of wolf spider, but females grow much larger than males. Females can grow to have body length of close to an inch while males are generally half of that.
Unlike Tigrosa annexa, this species prefers wooded areas or areas where they can find debris or other garbage to hide in. They are found as far north as Maine and all down the east coast into Florida.
3. Tigrosa georgicola
The Tigrosa georgicola is a somewhat unique species of wolf spider in the fact that it does most of its hunting during the day while most wolf spiders hunt at night.
Adults have a body length of ~0.4 to 0.9 inches long, with females growing larger than males. It lives on forest floors in wooded areas in the southeastern United States.
4. Carolina wolf spider
Scientific name: Hogna carolinensis
The largest species of wolf spider found in the United States, the Carolina wolf spider can have a body length of nearly 1.4 inches. They are widely distributed throughout the United States, including Florida.
These large spiders seem to specialize in eating large insects such as crickets and grasshoppers, and some have even been observed eating house geckos.
5. Field wolf spider
Scientific name: Hogna lenta
Field wolf spiders are ground spiders that prefer to live in densely vegetated areas. They make very small, but intricate burrows where they deposit small webs or silk throughout and on top.
They use the webs on top to act like tripwires that alert the Field wolf spider when any small insects walk over the web. Field wolf spiders are less common around Florida homes, but are instead more common in natural or outdoor recreation areas.
6. Beach wolf spider
Scientific name: Arctosa littoralis
Florida is certainly known for its beaches, but many people are unaware of some of the eight legged inhabitants they could be sharing the beach with when they go for a day in the sun. The Beach wolf spider can live in most places, but prefers the sandy habitat of the beach where they hide in the sand or other debris on the beach. They are rarely seen during the day and like most other wolf spiders are active at night.
7. Wetland giant wolf spider
Scientific name: Tigrosa hellulo
Wetland giant wolf spiders are widely distributed throughout the United States, including in Florida. As the name would suggest, they prefer wetter habitats and can be found in marshes, woods, riparian areas and fields. Females of this species are known to create burrows under rocks and boards.
8. Santa Rosa wolf spider
Scientific name: Arctosa sanctaerosae
The Santa Rosa wolf spider is another species of spider that can be found on the beaches of Florida. This species is of special conservation concern as they have a small distribution and occur in areas that are subject to environmental issues such as sea level rise, development and hurricane damage.
What is a wolf spider?
Wolf spiders are arachnids in the family Lycosidae. There are nearly 3000 species in the Lycosidae family and can be found on every continent excluding Antarctica. They are variable in size, with their bodies (not including their legs) ranging from 0.4 inches to 1.4 inches.
Where do wolf spiders get their name?
They get their name from their predatory hunting tactics. Wolf spiders are agile and calculated hunters and may chase down their prey, or instead wait for their prey to pass by them to pounce.
Is it good to have wolf spiders around?
Wolf spiders are great for helping to regulate pests and other insects. Compared to other species of spiders, which are nearly blind or have very poor vision, wolf spiders have excellent eyesight that aids in their hunting strategies.
Interestingly, wolf spiders do not spin webs and tend to live in solitude. Despite their solitary lifestyles, mother wolf spiders are very involved mothers and devote a great deal of care to their young. Mother wolf spiders will carry their spiderlings on their backs for several weeks until they are big enough to fend for themselves.
Are wolf spiders dangerous or poisonous?
Wolf spiders are not poisonous but are mildly venomous and could deliver a painful bite that causes swelling or mild pain. They are otherwise not dangerous to humans and generally looked at as harmless to people.
Their venom is made to take down insects and the occasional small vertebrate. In some cases, there may be some localized swelling and pain around the bite, but medical intervention is not necessary. However, these spiders are not prone to bite unless seriously provoked or agitated.