Wolf spiders definitely have an intimidating name, but are they really the size of wolves? Certainly not. They originally got their name because they are active hunters, like wolves, vs passive spiders that spin a web and wait to catch their prey. Wolf spiders are fast and can unexpectedly chase their prey down and jump on them! They have a unique set of eyes with a row of four eyes, topped by two larger eyes, topped by two medium sized eyes. Most are dark brown with very long hairy legs. When it comes to size the females are bigger than the males, but most wolf spiders have a body that is about an inch long with legs about an inch as well. What about the largest wolf spiders? Let’s find out more about the largest wolf spider ever!
The Giant Carolina Wolf Spider is the Largest Wolf Spider Ever
There are more than 240 groups of wolf spiders with hundreds of species, but scientists agree that the Giant Carolina Wolf Spider (or just Carolina Spider) is the largest wolf spider. The state of South Carolina has even named the Carolina spider as its state spider (incidentally its the only state to have a state spider!). So just how big do these spiders get? An average Carolina Spider can have a body that grows to be 22-35mm long (or around 1.5 inches) with legs that are about an inch long each. A large female would fit nicely in the palm of your hand. With wolf spiders carrying their babies on their back, a female Carolina wolf spider with a group spiderlings on its back is a unique sight!
How do Wolf Spiders compare to other spiders?
The biggest spider ever by width is the giant huntsman (Heteropoda maxima). These spiders were just discovered in Laos in 2001, so little is known about the species. However, they can grow to about 12 inches across. However, while the Giant Huntsman has extremely long legs, its body isn’t as large as other spiders.
Looking at total weight, the largest spider crown would belong to the Goliath birdeater spider. The Guinness World Records gives its ‘largest spider’ crown to a Goliath birdeater spider found in Rio Cavro, Venezuela back in April of 1965. It had a leg span of 28cm (11 inches). The body of a Goliath bird-eating spider can be as large as 4.75 inches.
They are not found in North America, with most of them living in the Amazon rainforest. Although their name suggests they are a fierce bird-eating animal, they are not capable of snatching a toucan or macaw for lunch. The fact is they mainly eat smaller mice, frogs and lizards, although they can eat birds such as hummingbirds that are smaller than they are.
What is one reason wolf spiders don’t get too big?
All spiders have some things in common, but one unique characteristic about wolf spiders is how they raise their young. Spiders lay eggs, but the female wolf spider creates a net for the spider eggs and carries it around with her until they hatch. You wouldn’t want to have a giant spider carrying around giant eggs! Even more interesting is that when the baby spiders hatch, they don’t go out into the world on their own. They crawl up the mother’s legs and make themselves at home on her back where she will carry them around for days to weeks until they are big enough to hunt. Again, if wolf spiders were too big and had big babies there is no way the mother would be able to piggyback a load of giant baby spiders, an inch-and-a-half is plenty big for the wolf spider family!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Cornel Constantin/Shutterstock.com
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