Penn State Extension

Share

Wolf Spiders

Hogna [previously known as Lycosa ] species

Image of hogna aspersa - wolf spider.

There are thirteen genera of wolf spiders in the United States. The genus Hogna contains numerous species and includes some of the biggest wolf spiders in our area. Two notable species, H. carolinensis and H. aspersa , are among the largest and most commonly encountered in Pennsylvania homes.

Description

Hogna carolinensis females are 22 to 35 millimeters in length, and the males are 18 to 20 millimeters. The carapace is a dark brown with scattered gray hairs that are typically not arranged in any discernible pattern. The abdomen is similarly colored, with a somewhat darker dorsal stripe. The legs are a solid color.

Hogna aspersa females are 18 to 25 millimeters in length, and the males are 16 to 18 millimeters. They are similar to H. carolinensis in body color but have a distinct narrow line of yellow hairs on the carapace in the vicinity of the eyes. The legs are banded with a lighter brown color at the joints. The males are much lighter in color than the females, and only their third and fourth pairs of legs are banded with a lighter color.

Life History

Both of these spiders are found in similar habitats and have similar habits. Hogna spiders build retreats (holes or tunnels) in the soil; under and between boards, stones, and firewood; under siding; and in similar protected areas. They are hunting spiders and only come out of hiding during the night to look for prey. Mating occurs in the autumn, and the males die before the onset of winter. The fertilized females overwinter in protected locations, including human-made structures, and produce egg cocoons the following May or June. The spiderlings hatch in June and July and will attain only half of their full size by the following winter. They too will overwinter in protected sites and complete their growth the following spring and summer. The females may live for several years beyond the year in which they reach maturity. It is common to find the females carrying their young spiderlings on their backs during the summer months.

Medical Importance

Wolf spiders will bite if handled or if trapped next to the skin. However, their venoms are not very harmful to humans, which is fortunate since the Hogna species are very large spiders whose bites could do serious damage if their venoms were more potent. Typical reactions include initial pain and redness, which subsides with time. No serious medical consequences of these bites have been noted.

Authored by: Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate

March 2002 Revised 2015

This publication is available in alternative media on request.

Reference

Baerg, W. J. 1936. The Black Widow. Ark. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bul. 325. 34 pp. 

Baerg, W. J. 1959. The Black Widow and Five Other Venomous Spiders in the United States. Ark. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bul. 608. 43 pp.

Bradley, R. A. 2013. Common Spiders of North America. University of California Press. 271 pp.

Breene, R. G., et al. 2003. Common Names of Arachnids. 5th ed. The American Arachnological Society Committee on Common Names of Arachnids. 42 pp.

Gertsch, W. J., and F. Ennik. 1983. “The spider genus Loxosceles in North America, Central America, and the West Indies (Araneae, Loxoscelidae).” Bul Amer Mus. Nat. Hist. 175: 24–360.

Herms, W. B., and M. T. James. 1961. Medical Entomology. 5th ed. The MacMillan Company, New York. 616 pp.

Howell, W. M., and R. L. Jenkins. 2004. Spiders of the Eastern United States: A Photographic Guide. Pearson Education. 363 pp.

Isbister, G. K., and M. R. Gray. 2003. “Effects of envenoming by combfooted spiders of the genera Steatoda and Achaearanea (Family Theridiidae: Araneae) in Australia.” J. Toxicol. Clin. Toxicol. 41: 809–819.

Kaston, B. J. 1948. “Spiders of Connecticut.” Conn. State Geol. Nat. Hist. Survey. Bull. 70. 874 pp.

Kaston, B. J. 1972. How to Know the Spiders. 3rd ed. Wm. C. Brown Company, Dubuque, Iowa. 272 pp.

Levi, H. W. 1959. “The Spider Genus Latrodectus (Araneae, Theridiidae).” Trans. Amer. Microscopical Soc. 78(1): 7–43.

Long, D., R. Snetsinger, and K. F. Helm. 1995. “Localized Pruritic Rash Due to Recurrent Spider Bites.” J. Geriatr. Dermatol. 3(6): 186–190.

McKeown, N., R. S. Vetter, and R. G. Hendrickson. 2014. “Verified spider bites in Oregon (USA) with the intent to assess hobo spider venom toxicity.” Toxicon 84: 51–55.

Ubick, D., P. Paquin, P. E. Cushing, and V. Roth, eds. 2005. Spiders of North America: An Identification Manual. American Arachnological Society. 377 pp.

Vetter, R. S., and P. Kirk Visscher. 1998. “Bites and Stings of Medically Important Venomous Arthropods.” International. J. Derm. 37: 481–496.

Vetter, R. S., et al. 2006. “Verified Bites By Yellow Sac Spiders (Genus Cheiracanthium) in the United States and Australia: Where Is the Necrosis?” Amer. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 74(6): 1,043–1,048.

Vetter, R. S., and G.K. Isbister. 2008. “Medical aspects of spider bites.” Annu. Rev. Entomol. 53: 409–429.

 

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research, extension, and resident education programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Visit Penn State Extension on the web: http://extension.psu.edu

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Cooperative Extension is implied.

This publication is available in alternative media on request.

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected groups. Nondiscrimination.

© The Pennsylvania State University 2017

Related content