There are over 2,300 species of wolf spiders, most of which closely resemble one another. This makes it very difficult to differentiate between the varying species of arachnids. Wolf spiders can be found all over the world including Canada and inhabit wherever they can uncover a food source. Favoured habitats include gardens, fields, meadows, grasslands, beaches, and around the and shores of ponds and marshes. Common nesting sites include grassy areas, leaf litter, and small burrows or tunnels in the ground.
Wolf spiders are hairy and typically have a camouflage colouring, comprising of a mix of orange, brown, black, and grey colours. They can grow up to 3cm in length. They are often mistaken for dock spiders, but can be distinguished by size and eye placement. Wolf spiders are smaller than dock spiders and they have three recognizable rows of eyes (dock spiders have 2). Their front row of eyes is comprised of 4 small eyes, the middle row has 2 large eyes, and the back row has 2 medium sized eyes, spaced off to the sides.
Wolf spiders stalk and hunt for their food, and being nocturnal arachnids, they do this at night. They use their agility and quick reflexes to strike insects, other invertebrates (including spiders), small amphibians and reptiles. Despite causing fear in humans, they are beneficial to the environment as they help keep common pest populations in check.
The find their way inside homes, garages, and man-made structures when in pursuit of their next meal, or in the fall when they seek protective shelter to overwinter. As they prefer quiet and solitude, large wolf spider infestations are scarce and unlikely.
While they are not aggressive, they will bite if handled, or if they are in close proximity to human skin and feel threatened. A bite from a wolf spider has been compared to a bee-sting or a pin prick. Their venom is not potent or fatal to humans. Bites have been known to cause swelling and redness around the bite mark, which can be relieved with application of an ice pack. If not taken care of properly, a wolf spider bite can lead to infection.
The life span of wolf spiders varies by gender. Male spiders most often die with a year and do die shortly after mating with a female wolf spider. Female wolf spiders can live for many years. While male and female wolf spiders mate in the fall, females do not produce an egg cocoon until the following spring. Post mating, males die and females seek shelter to overwinter. Egg cocoons take about 1 month to hatch. Wolf spiderlings will grow to approximately half their full adult size by the fall, and will overwinter. By the next spring and summer periods, they will have fully matured into adult wolf spiders
Like dock spiders, wolf spiders cause more fear and alarm due to their grand size and fierce looks. They pose no harm to people or property.
Here are some helpful tips to help deter wolf spiders from your property:
Seal cracks and crevices around your home, focusing on doors, windows, other entry points and the foundation, and repair or replace torn screens. This will also help prevent other spiders from invading your home and providing a food source for the wolf spider.
Keep the perimeter of your home clean and free of debris.
Keep garbage tightly sealed and store it away from the home’s exterior.
Regularly trim and maintain gardens, trees and shrubbery around the home’s exterior to prevent overgrowth and possible nesting or hiding places for wolf spiders and their prey.
Use yellow colour light bulbs outdoors, which has been known to deter certain spiders, like the wolf spider
If you have an issue with wolf spiders, contact a licensed pest control company with expertise to help you safely control and get rid of wolf spiders.
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