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Wolf Spiders in Texas (Facts and Info)

One of 900 different species of Texas arachnids is the wolf spider. Wolf spiders get their name from the way they search, find and hunt their food.

These spiders may look menacing with their long-legged body and legs, however, given the opportunity many wolf spiders will always look for a way to escape crossing paths with humans.

About Wolf Spiders in Texas

Wolf spiders, belonging to the Lycosidae family,  are avid hunters and enjoy wide open grass areas (lawns) in which to find and chase after prey. Using enhanced vision and agility, these spiders are able to hunt down prey without the need to climb or build webs. The wolf spider’s behavior of stalking and pouncing its prey has given the arachnid its name.

Spiders like these prefer to use burrows to take shelter and ambush prey that happen to wander inside, otherwise, they go out hunting to find food when they are feeling hungry. Texas lawns provide these types of spiders with lots of habitat locations to dig out a burrow and thrive.

This article will take a closer look at the wolf spiders that live in Texas.

Texas Wolf Spiders

There are almost 240 different types of wolf spiders in the United States and the Texas region’s many varied and diverse landscapes. Most of them are going to look similar to the pictures you see on this page.

  • Aka: Ground spider, Hunting spider, Wandering spider
  • Scientific Family: Lycosidae

Range and Habitat

Texas wolf spiders frequent the eastern and central portions of the state.  Wolf spiders can be seen at night, or on a cloudy day inside grassy areas, under rocks, and nestled inside leafy and natural debris locations.

Any location that has insect populations has been shown to allow the wolf spider the ability to live well in Texas, especially in areas near a pond or a stream.

Physical Characteristics

A wolf spider at night
A wolf spider at night | Image by lolaclinton from Pixabay

Wolf spiders are various camouflaging shades of brown and gray growing up to 2 inches in length. With long legs and a hairy body, the colorization of the back and abdomen of this spider always include pale marks in striped patterns.

Burrowing wolf spiders will have very thick front legs which they use to dig underground. The three-row pattern and size variation of their eight eyes on their cephalothorax (head) aid in the identification of this species. The Chelicerae (jaws) holding venom are highly visible and elongated for ease in holding and eating prey.

Diet

When a wolf spider is hungry it will go out and find its food by stalking and pouncing. Wolf spiders eat a variety of insects and other types of invertebrates.

Larger wolf spiders have also been reported eating insects larger than themselves and even small vertebrates such as amphibians and reptiles. Some examples of  Wolf Spider ground-level menu options include:

  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Earwigs
  • Flies
  • Ants
  • Roaches
  • Insect larvae
  • Spiders (Brown Recluse, Black widow)
  • Reproduction

Wolf spiders prefer a solitary life. Spiders begin the mating cycle during the Spring. The males use their ability to bang and wave their pedipalps (sensory limbed organs) to rhythmically serenade a female. If they are successful in their endeavor the female will mate with the male instead of simply eating him for lunch.

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A pregnant wolf spider will encapsulate 100 eggs in a single silk sack that she will spin and tuck under her abdomen for safe keeping.

Once the slings ( spider babies) are ready to appear from the sack, the mother will ease the process by ripping open an escape hatch. Spiderlings ride “piggyback” on the mother for up to two weeks when they are fully able to live on their own.

Once the young slings are ready to venture away from mom, they use their abdomen and cast a dragline (single silk thread) in the air to ride a current to move.  Male spiders live no longer than a year while female life spans can reach up to 18 months.

Carolina wolf spider
Carolina wolf spider | image by Fritz Flohr Reynolds via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Hunting and Collection Regulations

In Texas, spider species, even those classified as endangered and threatened, are not regulated or protected.

FAQS About  Wolf Spiders

1. Are Wolf Spiders dangerous?

No, although Wolf spiders have fangs and venom, humans have more of an allergic reaction to the bitten area rather than a tissue-damaging condition as found in other spider bite situations.

2. Are Wolf Spiders aggressive?

Yes and No. Without an Egg Sack to protect, a wolf spider is not aggressive toward humans. A wolf spider biting a human occurs when the spider has the feeling of being threatened without a way to escape ( inside a glove or shoe).

Should you ever be bitten by a wolf spider, wash the area and reduce the swelling with something frozen.

3. Do Wolf Spiders infest houses?

No, Wolf Spiders can be found inside a house, but the spiders are solitary, wandering hunters. Their food source is mainly outside so the infestation by many wolf spiders living together in your home, although possible, is not probable.

4. How do Wolf Spiders find each other if they live alone?

Although the spiders rarely climb or make webs, they still spin silk to communicate using their spinnerets.  Almost like a tether, wolf spiders leave a long trail of silk called a dragline for other spiders (opposite sex) to follow and start mating rituals.

5. How Far can a Wolf Spider jump?

Wolf Spiders only pounce on the prey they do not technically jump. The distance a wolf spider can pounce onto food depends entirely on the type of wolf spider.

Some spiders are said as having jerky short pouncing behaviors while a variety of these spiders are said as pouncing much longer distances.