Spiders are generally regarded as some of the most feared creatures around. Whether it’s their eight hairy legs or void-filled eyes, most people don’t want anything to do with them. Still, they always find a way into the places that we don’t want them! For anyone living on the east coast of North America, there is one spider that is known across the country in terms of size! Let’s discover the largest spider in North Carolina and find out all we can about this arachnid!
What is the largest spider in North Carolina?
The largest spider in North Carolina is the Carolina wolf spider.
The United States is home to many spiders, but not all of them are very large. A quick trip to South America will reveal the largest spiders in the world (tarantulas). But thankfully, the States don’t have anything crawling into homes that are nearly that size! Still, we have some spiders that are big enough to make your spine crawl.
The largest spider in North Carolina is generally regarded as the Carolina wolf spider, or Hogna carolinensis. These spiders are some of the largest spiders around and are the largest members of the wolf spider family. They are sexually dimorphic, meaning the males and females are different sizes, with the largest members growing up to 1.5 inches in length. Their legs are significantly longer and fan a few more inches out to either side of them. Males are smaller than females, with females often being identified by the carrying around of their egg sacks under their belly.
Although there are other spiders that may have a wider leg span than the wolf spider, the body size and mass of the wolf spider keep it in the first place. Other potential candidates are members of the huntsman family and the weaver family.
What do Carolina wolf spiders look like?
To be clear, the Carolina wolf spider is a scary creature that looks like something out of a horror film. Like all spiders, the wolf spider has eight legs and eyes. Male wolf spiders are smaller than females and usually have orange coloration around their abdomen. Females are darker in color, usually light brown to brown, with darker patterning across their backs.
An interesting tell for the wolf spider is that their eyes reflect light. When seen at night, the spider’s eyes will glow like a cat.
Where do Carolina wolf spiders live?
As their name suggests, Carolina wolf spiders live in North Carolina. Despite their name, they are also found almost everywhere else in the United States. They are commonly seen in the southeast but are present across most of North America.
These spiders are highly weather tolerant and live in all sorts of habitats. Part of what makes them so widespread is their ability to thermoregulate better than many other creatures. Whether they are living in a desert or in the cold, they can regulate their temperature to almost any environment within three days. The primary method they use is oxygen consumption, but they also pull their bodies in close and cover themselves in water.
Are Carolina wolf spiders dangerous?
Carolina wolf spiders have long fangs and use venom to paralyze prey that they catch. These spiders don’t hunt using a web. Instead, they jump on their prey and are incredibly fast. Despite their long fangs and speed, they aren’t a threat to humans at all. They rarely bite since their venom isn’t designed for use as a defense but as a paralytic for their prey.
If bitten, the most likely result is simply mechanical damage from the size of the fangs and some swelling and pain in the local area. People often refer to wolf spider bites as similar to a sting from a wasp or bee.
What is the most dangerous spider in North Carolina?
Although wolf spiders can bite and are likely the largest by mass, they aren’t close to being the most dangerous. That honor belongs to the black widow and the brown recluse. There are two types of black widows in North Carolina, the northern black widow, and the southern black widow. Both have similar types of venom and are generally regarded as the most dangerous of all North American spiders. Although spider bites are rarely deadly, the black widow has the highest fatality rate of any spider in North America.
The brown recluse is also quite dangerous, although its venom differs from the black widow. A brown recluse creates more localized tissue damage and necrosis. Still, you wouldn’t want to get bitten by either one!