Friday’s Farm Fauna – Wolf Spider

Welcome to our weekly series: Friday’s Farm Fauna.  Life abounds at our training farm, and it’s not just the fresh veggies, fruit, and flowers our farmers grow.  From wild turkeys to snapping turtles to bumblebees, every Friday, we share a glimpse of the hidden life on our farm.

In honor of Black Friday, I chose this black wolf spider as today’s featured Farm Fauna.  When we moved these sandbags to use as weights for row cover in our winter production, this spider politely waited until I dug out my camera before scurrying off to another dark place.

Identification is difficult for this spider.  It is a part of the Lycosidae family of spiders, all of whom hunt for their prey rather than using webs.  I couldn’t find any web resources to get a positive identification on this spider’s species, and the printed guides in our office simply say that there are many species in North America, and it is hard to distinguish between them. In general, the wolf spiders’ eyes set them apart from other spiders: a row of four small eyes, two large ones above the row, and two smaller ones pointing backwards.  I bet if you had 360 degree vision and eight legs, you would be a pretty good hunter, too.

While wolf spiders terrify the arachnophobes among us, they serve an important role on the farm.  They devour many, many insects, and they are not harmless to humans.  So, next time you see one of these fellows in your bathroom, consider trapping it and returning it outside to your garden instead of smashing it.

To read earlier posts in this series, click on the links below:
Painted Turtle
Meadowhawk Dragonfly
Pink Spotted Lady Bug
Squash Bugs
Meadow Vole
Woodhouse’s Toad
Soldier Beetle
Spotted Cucumber Beetle
Tomato Fruitworm
Western Gray Tree Frog
Grasshopper
Robber Fly
Bumblebee
Pavement Ant
Plains Leopard Frog and Western Ribbon Snake
Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

3 comments on “Friday’s Farm Fauna – Wolf Spider

  1. The text for the wolf spider says “not harmless to humans”. Was that a typo or could you clarify how much “not harmless”?

    • Linda,

      Thanks for your question – that wasn’t a typo. UNL Extension’s website says, “Wolf spiders are not considered to be poisonous, although a bite may cause a reaction in certain individuals.”

      I certainly wouldn’t try to get a wolf spider to bite me, but I’m much more likely to let it live than I would a black widow or brown recluse.

      -Warren

  2. Corner Garden Sue on said:

    I always catch insects in a tissue or paper towel, and put them outside. I’m trying to remember if I’ve caught a wolf spider or not. I have taken a number of spiders out, though.

    I work in a high school. Just last week, some students, mostly boys, were dancing around a spider, trying to get each other to step on it. I looked, and told them it is a wolf spider, and said they should leave it alone. I didn’t have time to take it out at that time, so I don’t know what its fate was.

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