Wolf Spider Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Their name makes them sound pretty scary, but wolf spiders aren't dangerous to someone your size. Learn all about them in this lesson, including how they got their name.

What are Wolf Spiders?

Wolf spiders are small spiders that live all over North America and Europe, and even as far north as the Arctic Circle. They can live in all kinds of different places, including farm fields, grasslands, and even marshes.

Wolf spiders' colors help them blend in with the ground. They're usually gray, black, or tan with brown or black markings. Wolf spiders have eight eyes, arranged in three rows. Like other spiders, they also have eight legs. The bodies of the biggest wolf spiders measure about one inch across. The female spiders are often bigger than the males.

A few types of wolf spiders make webs, but most of them build nests in the ground. Some types of wolf spiders have really strong front legs to dig out their nests.

A wolf spider looking out of its nest
Wolf spider

Eating and Being Eaten

Wolf spiders get their name from the way they catch their food. Wolf spiders eat smaller insects, including other spiders. Unlike most other spiders, they don't spin webs to catch other insects. Instead, they run after their prey and jump on it, the way a wolf pounces.

Wolf spiders can run very fast to catch their prey. They have poison, or venom, in their bite to kill their prey once they catch it. But wolf spiders usually aren't dangerous to people. Although they may leave you with a nasty bite, only people who are allergic or sensitive to their poisonous venom may have a reaction.

Wolf spiders can also climb up trees to look for food and even jump into water and swim. They're also very good at seeing in the dark, and many of them hunt at night.

Some other animals also eat wolf spiders. Bigger insects like wasps and other spiders, lizards, mice, turkeys, and other birds all eat wolf spiders, if they can catch them!

Mating and Raising Babies

When two wolf spiders mate, the female spider lays eggs in a special pouch called an egg sac. She attaches the egg sac to her body and carries it around with her until the eggs hatch. Once a female's babies hatch, she carries them around on her back for two weeks or even more, until they can survive on their own.

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