Wolf Spider Location: Where Do Wolf Spiders Live?

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: November 17, 2022
© iStock.com/CathyKeifer
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Wolf spiders are among the world’s most widely distributed spiders! They’re so good at adapting to various habitats that they can be found everywhere nowadays! But do they have any preferences? What’s special about their lifestyle? And what species live in the United States? Keep reading to find out!

The Lycosidae spiders are small, agile spiders with excellent eyesight. They get their name from their unique hunting technique – wolf spiders either chase their prey down or ambush it from their burrows.

With over 2,800 species divided into 124 genera, these spiders rarely grow larger than 1.5 inches! On average, they have a body length of 0.4 – 1.38 inches. Their excellent eyesight is provided by the eight eyes arranged in three rows. This distinguishes wolf spiders from other spiders. Another unique thing about them is the retroreflective tissues in their four largest eyes, which means that flashing a beam of light will cause eyeshine in wolf spiders.

Most wolf spider species have light brown, dark brown, or black color patterns, ensuring perfect camouflage for hunting or protection.

Where Do Wolf Spiders Live?

Largest Wolf Spider - Carolina Wolf Spider
Wolf spiders live in various habitats, ranging from coastal to inland ecosystems.

©Will E. Davis/Shutterstock.com

Wolf spiders are spread around the world! They live in various habitats, ranging from coastal to inland ecosystems. They’re often found in wet coastal forests, alpine meadows, shrublands, woodland, suburban gardens, and people’s houses.

A wolf spider’s habitat preferences primarily depend on what species it is. For example, some species have specific habitat “requirements,” such as montane herb fields or stream-side gravel beds. Some wolf spiders inhabit arid zones, where they live in turrets. On the other hand, other species do not have any preferences and spend their time moving from one place to another. They’re even called “wanderers.” 

People often find them in urban and suburban areas, in sheds, or other outdoor equipment. If food is scarce, wolf spiders will also get into people’s houses looking for prey.

While some spiders live in large communal webs, wolf spiders are lonely creatures that dig burrows or tunnels into the dirt. They use their “personal space” to rest and “spy” for prey. These burrows are also used for overwintering.

Where Is the Wolf Spider Most Commonly Found?

Unfortunately, since there are almost three thousand wolf spider species, it would be impossible to guess where they are most commonly found, especially since many species have specific preferences. If we were to evaluate where they’re most commonly found in urban and suburban areas, we’d say gardens and lawns, where they look for prey. In the wild, on the other hand, they’re everywhere!

However, some studies focused on particular wolf spider species show that they change their habitat depending on “personal” preferences. For example, a study shows that the Lycosa santrita spiders living in southeastern Arizona, predominantly younger spiders, choose their homes depending on the grass in the area. When they mature, females move to places with less grass that have patches of bare ground, and males follow them.

Are Wolf Spiders in the USA?

rabid wolf spider
Many wolf spiders in the 124 genera inhabit the United States’ ecosystems.

©Brett Hondow/Shutterstock.com

Yes, wolf spiders are found across the United States! Many wolf spiders in the 124 genera inhabit United States’ ecosystems. Let’s check some of them!

1. Hogna carolinensis

Hogna carolinensis is the largest wolf spider species found in the United States. It has even become South Carolina’s state spider!

This species is part of the Hogna genus, consisting of more than 200 species found worldwide, except in Antarctica.

Carolina wolf spiders can reach a body length of 1.4 – 1.5 inches, which is a pretty big size for wolf spiders! They have dark brown bodies without specific colorations, except for the darker stripe on the abdomen and a black ventral side. 

Other Hogna species living in the United States are the following:

  • Hogna antelucana
  • Hogna ammophila
  • Hogna baltimoriana
  • Hogna coloradensis
  • Hogna ericeticola
  • Hogna frondicola
  • Hogna labrea
  • Hogna lenta
  • Hogna lupina
  • Hogna pseudoceratiola
  • Hogna suprenans
  • Hogna timuqua
  • Hogna watsoni

2. Spiders in the Pardosa genus

The Pardosa genus may have the most species living in the United States! There are so many we couldn’t choose just one, so here are some of them:

  • Pardosa groenlandica – it is found in North America, from northern Quebec to Maine to Michigan; it also inhabits the regions west to Utah and north to the Northwest Territories
  • Pardosa mackenziana – this species inhabits Canada and the United States; in the latter, it is found in California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, South Dakota, Minnesota, Alaska, Idaho, Wisconsin, and other states
  • Pardosa mercurialis – these wolf spiders live in North America in Canada and the United States, where they can be found in Texas and Oklahoma
  • Pardosa ramulosa – these wolf spiders are unique because they primarily live and feed near salt marsh habitats; they live in the United States and Mexico; in the US, Pardosa ramulosa spiders are found in California, Utah, and Nevada

3. Gladicosa gulosa

This wolf spider species is part of the Gladicosa genus and lives in the US and Canada’s Beech-Maple forests. It inhabits the plant strata of the ground. It’s not as common as other wolf spider species, but totally worth mentioning, thanks to its unique, beautiful coloration. Gladicosa gulosa is nocturnal and rarely comes out during the day.

In fact, all five species in the Gladicosa genus live in the United States! Here are the others:

  • Gladicosa bellamyi
  • Gladicosa euepigynata
  • Gladicosa huberti
  • Gladicosa pulchra

4. Tigrosa aspersa

Tigrosa aspersa is another large wolf spider species, although it’s smaller than the Hogna carolinensis species mentioned above. These spiders live in the eastern United States.

The other species in the Tigrosa genus inhabit the United States, too. Here’s what they’re called:

  • Tigrosa annexa
  • Tigrosa georgicola
  • Tigrosa grandis
  • Tigrosa helluo

5. Hesperocosa unica

Hesperocosa unica is the only species in the Herperocosa genus of wolf spiders. This species is found only in the United States.

Are Wolf Spiders Poisonous?

Animal, Animal Body Part, Animal Hair, Animal Leg, Animal Limb
Wolf spiders have venom, which contains toxins that paralyze their prey.

©iStock.com/Henrik_L

While wolf spiders have venom, which contains toxins that paralyze their prey, this venom isn’t strong enough to harm humans. A wolf spider bite may hurt for a while, swell and itch, but it shouldn’t threaten anyone’s life. However, some people may be allergic to the toxins in the venom. In this case, it’s important to seek medical attention.

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The Featured Image

Wolf spider in grass
Wolf spiders are among the world’s most widely distributed spiders.
© iStock.com/CathyKeifer

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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Sources
  1. PennState Extension, Available here: https://extension.psu.edu/wolf-spiders
  2. Terminix, Available here: https://www.terminix.com/spiders/wolf/where-do-wolf-spiders-live/
  3. iNaturalist, Available here: https://www.inaturalist.org/guide_taxa/340285
  4. Missouri Department of Conservation, Available here: https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/wolf-spiders