The Wolf Spider, Venomous, but Preys on More Dangerous Spiders
Big, scary, venomous, but benign and beneficial, the wolf spider
Wolf spiders are everywhere here in north and east Texas
Growing up and stomping around in the fields and woods, or just in the yard, here in north Texas; the wolf spider may as well be thought your constant companion. They are fairly ubiquitous, especially during the warmer months. In Texas, most months are the warmer months. But we Texans aren't especially lucky or anything, the wolf spiders of this world are happy to keep most earthlings company. The wolf spiders dwell just about anywhere humans do, the only places they don't live are places where almost no one else does either, think Greenland, Antarctica.
Seeing as how humanity and the wolf spiders of the world do cohabitation, perhaps we should learn to admire one another, and not do it all grudgingly. I consider the wolf spider as a personal friend, actually. I've never been bitten, never had one invade my personal space by crawling on me, or anything. In fact, the wolf spiders I see are generally overly respectful towards me. They run away, as if I posed some sort of threat, which I never intentionally have.
I enjoy and admire wolf spiders as I enjoy and admire all pure predators. If the common name of the creature didn't tip you off, the wolf spider is an all out predator, and it is an ambush predator primarily. None of that orb spinning stuff for these guys and gals, they live on the ground. They are large spiders, and the ones in Texas are large indeed. They are not, however, the largest of the wolf spiders - that distinction belongs to the Carolina wolf spiders.
Hogna carolinensis, the Carolina Wolf Spider
Hogna lenta, The Wolf Spider's Eyes!
What do wolf spiders eat?
Because wolf spiders live everywhere in this world save the most extremely cold of places, they and their many species dine on many many things. You live in the USA, and are terrified of brown recluse spiders? Well, be kind to the wolf spiders, never squish them, and they'll handle up on the brown recluse population Hannibal Lecter style, and eat them.
A diverse diet is important to good health, and the wolf spiders of this world are very health conscious, and they will dine on a veritable who's who list of insects, reptiles, amphibians and the like; beetles, grasshoppers, crickets - these are generally staples of the wolf spider's diet. So far as eating other spiders go, the wolf spider isn't shy about it, and they do eat more spider species than merely the brown recluse. It's almost as if they are asking to be domesticated to us, as the fuzzy four legged wolves were of old. Yes, wolf spiders do, in fact, eat other wolf spiders. Don't get fussy about it, sometimes they mate with them before eating them; I'd hate for you to think love wasn't involved in it all somewhere.
When it comes to hunting, it's all in the eyes for the wolf spider, all eight of them. Always look a wolf spider in the eyes when speaking to one, it would be rude to do otherwise. You'll always know your wolf spiders by their eyes, they've two rather large ones above the smaller four. They hunt by sight, and are very well aware of you when you tower above them.
There are around two thousand and three hundred species of wolf spiders known to mankind. Two hundred species alone live in the United States and Canada. We are truly blessed, and in more ways than we often realize.
This is a hobo spider, NOT a wolf spider
Hobo spiders are not wolf spiders
The image above should suffice to show that the hobo spider and the wolf spider look very very similar, especially to the common person, i.e., persons who aren't involved in biological sciences daily. The distinction isn't especially important, as either spider is rather venomous, and are purported to be 'aggressive.' I don't find the wolf spider to be aggressive towards humans at all, but I don't know much about the hobo spider, and the reason is the hobo spiders are all somewhere in the Pacific northwest. Wolf spiders are also found in the Pacific northwest, but are also found nationwide. If you don't live in the Pacific northwestern regions, then you don't have hobo spiders around.
Wolf spider bite - tissue damage
Wolf spider bites
A wolf spider bite is an ugly affair, certainly painful, and possibly requiring professional medical attention. A wolf spider bite, however, is rather uncommon, and unlikely to be a thing you have to deal with. Try being respectful of the wolf spider, they are on the same team as you are; and so long as you don't poke one with a stick or something - you won't get bit!
It is worth me saying it again, the wolf spider's venom is nothing when compared to the venom of the brown recluse spider. Neither spider wants to bite you at all, but should you be especially fearful of spiders, want to kill them all for good measure - then please reconsider, and remember that wolf spiders eat brown recluse spiders. I want the reader to learn to recognize the wolf spider, and to know when they see one that the creature is beneficial to your home environment. If you do get bit by one, you probably won't need medical attention, but there are cases or incidents where it was required. I trust the reader to use his or her own best judgement.
Wolf spider mamma with babies
The wolf spider mother carries many of your friends, the baby wolf spiders, on her precious back
Isn't it simply adorable how the wolf spider mother carries all those precious children around on her back? I think so. I respect a loving parent, even when she and her children aren't often considered socially acceptable. Judge not, lest ye also be judged, you know, and all of that.
Mating with a lovely female wolf spider is always a chancy affair for the males. Female wolf spiders often, but not always, eat the males after mating. Think of it as insurance against infidelity, and then there is the thing about having a full belly while pregnant. Mamma wolf spider only wants what is best for her children, of course, and the children will feel all the more loved and worthy when they find out dad paid it all for their being brought into this world of wonders.
Now knowing what you know now about the beautiful wolf spiders, surely you will never again squish one with your boots. I know you'll never again insult one horribly by screaming when you have the chance to make introductions. Go now, love the wolf spiders, and sin no more.