Friday, June 17, 2011

Backyard Bushcraft - The Rabid Wolf Spider in Texas

In Texas, things have a tendency to be really big, both literally and figuratively. The Texas Rabid Wolf Spider is just one example of a really big spider. It is one of the largest and most common spiders found in Texas. The female, which is much larger than the male, can have a body length of almost an inch to as much as two inches in larger specimens. The males are usually much smaller with a total body length of about half an inch. This is without including their very long legs.

The Texas Rabid Wolf Spider (Rabidosa rabida) is often confused with other wolf spiders. Although there are over 60 different species in Texas alone, there are numerous differences in the appearance of wolf spiders. The rabid wolf spider can be easily identified by the stripe pattern on its body. As seen in the picture above, the thorax or front body section usually has two dark stripes. The abdomen or rear body section has one dark stripe surrounded by two smaller and paler stripes. This particular rabid wolf spider was a very large female. Yes, things really are bigger in Texas, including our spiders.

Rabid wolf spiders depend on their eyesight and blazing speed to catch their prey and don’t rely on webs like most spiders. The rabid wolf spider hunts down its prey using its eyesight and amazing speed (they are very fast and can cover several feet in a matter of seconds) to catch or ambush its prey. It then crushes them in its strong jaws (cheliceraes). Although they generally have good vision (for a spider anyway), wolf spiders still have difficulty distinguishing your fingers from an insect.

As a result, they can inflict extremely painful bites which are venomous and can be a very unpleasant experience. If a bite penetrates your skin, it can cause painful swelling and itchiness. Normally, only the very large wolf spiders are capable of inflicting a bite that will penetrate the skin. While many people only experience symptoms similar to a bee sting for a short period, it can affect some people quite differently with a bite that may take several days to heal. Generally, you won’t have a problem with these spiders since they are very shy and will run away quickly if given the chance.

 These spiders are very beneficial in helping to control the insect population and like to hang around in all the wrong places. Most people usually encounter these spiders around doors and windows in homes, basements, garages and sheds where their prey is normally found. As a result, you are much more likely to encounter one of these amazing creatures. They can also be found in backyards around rocks, leaf litter and debris.

Got blazing speed and strong jaws?

Staying above the water line!



sel said...

One of my worst nightmares is spiders. Was in our pool one day and a wolf spider was on the side wall out of the water. We didn't know it was there until a slosh of water sent thousands of baby spiders all over us. It felt like we were walking on water we got out of there so fast! Still get the willies thinking about it.

riverwalker said...

To: sel

It was probably a female wolf spider. They normally carry their egg sacs on their abdomens.

The little baby ones probably wouldn't hurt you but big ones can bite if they are mishandled.

My biggest problem was getting one to stay still long enough to get a decent pic.

Thanks sel.


Diggity Dog said...

I still feel bad for killing the one wolf spider I've ever run into. I know they're good for controlling insects and baby rodents but when I turned the corner I just instinctively attacked before the brain even kicked in. I'm not used to seeing spiders that big.

riverwalker said...

To: Diggity Dog

They actually try to run away when confronted. If you find them in an area of your home or yard where you don't want them, it's pretty easy to relocate them outside, etc.

An instinctive reaction is hard to overcome...

Thanks Diggity Dog.


One Fly said...

Check this out R Walker.

I think the bottom one is a wolf spider carrying young. I knew it was a spider but it was so big it looked odd. Had never seen this before. I flicked it and I bet a hundred or more babies scrambled off. This is a great picture readers. I say this because it's unusual at least to me.

The one with red design is the one I'm very curious about as well. That picture was taken south of Pueblo,CO and the other in NW CO.

You're my go to man when it comes to spiders R Walker.

riverwalker said...

To: One Fly

I checked out your pics. The bottom pic is a wolf spider with egg sac.

I'm not certain but the top pic is what may be a Northern Black Widow (aka, Latrodectus variolus). They have a variation in their markings that are different from the Southern Black Widow with their typical red hourglass shaped marking.

I would be careful around any spider with red markings...just to be on the safe side.

Thanks One Fly.


AngelStar said...

Okay... So I have a whole bunch of these guys at my place. They are super fast and the jump and dance and they will charge you! I got an excellent picture of one of them.

riverwalker said...

To: AngelStar

Under most circumstances, they will try to avoid you. Like most "critters" they really aren't dangerous unless provoked or mishandled.

They are a very common spider that will be seen quite often.



Savitar said...

Hi last year during the summer i was bit by a spider it swelled pretty bad and was painful. A few days later i heard something run into my window when i pulled the curtain back there was a large wolf spider inside the window and a bird attacking my window trying to eat it.

I think that was the cause of my bite and killed it. I am very sensitive to insect bites even mosquito bites leave bruises for weeks.

My delima is that it's now April and my sister and I are finding small spiders in our beds i found a false spider a few weeks ago and then some little yellow spider and many small wolf spiders. In fact i just shoved one off the bed and killed it. I just can't have them in bed with me.

Are they in my bed because our dogs sleep in them and have flea's right now? They only started showing up in our beds after the flea outbreak which we are battling. Would the small wolf spiders come in and eat the flea's and do you think they will go away when the flea problem is dealt with?

Right now my legs are covered in bruises and bites though i am not sure if it is flea's, mosquito's, or very small spiders that are causing them. I know that small spiders can't really penetrate skin like the big one could but i imagine they can scrape the top layer pretty good, and since flea's and ants cause a bad reaction and they only get the surface i imagine these guys can too.

I thought they were in my bed because my bed is backed up against a double window one of which has a ac unit in it which they could probably crawl through. However my sisters bed isn't near a window and in another room but they are still showing up in her bed but no where else.

Since last year i haven't seen a big one these are only a few centimeters across legs and all they are pretty much the same size as most of the little common house spiders that like to make webs in the bathroom.

We don't mind spiders in the house just not in our bed so a little reassurance that they will be gone soon would go a long way for my piece of mind but please don't lie and if you have any advice to help get rid of them that would help.

riverwalker said...

To: Savitar

Wolf spiders eat insects. They also hunt down their prey and don’t use a web like many types of spiders.

Crickets are their favorite food but they also eat cockroaches, mealworms and beetles. They may be preying on the other types of spiders or insects you mentioned being present inside your home.

The bird hitting your window was probably due to a reflection. When they see themselves in the glass, they think another bird has invaded their territory and immediately attack the reflection. It probably didn't even notice the spider.

You can get rid of the fleas in your yard by using nematodes. You can keep the fleas off your pets by adding a small amount of vinegar to their drinking water. It changes the PH of their blood and the fleas will leave them alone.

Fleas are also attracted to the color white. Colored linens on your bedding should help but you still need to get rid of the fleas in your room since they are the probable cause of your multiple bites. You may also have an infestation of bed bugs as well.

Baby wolf spiders usually aren't big enough to inflict even a small bite and are probably not the responsible party. The presence of the wolf spiders is a good indicator that they are other insects in your home which they are seeking out as prey. If you eliminate their food source, they should leave and go elsewhere.

The area around your window a/c unit needs to be sealed really well and sprayed to eliminate any insects or spiders from coming inside.

Fleas don't have wings but are really good jumpers and can travel quite a distance in a relatively short time. They can travel from one room to another quite quickly.

While insects have a place in nature, they don't belong in your bed or your home.

Hope this has been some help.


DestineyCarpenter said...

There were two of these spiders and several babies around our pool. I'm scared that my 4yr old daughter will try to pick them up, How can I get rid of them?

riverwalker said...

To: D.Carpenter

You need to make the area outside your home and around your pool less attractive to wolf spiders. Start by clearing vegetation away from around your pool area or removing pot plants etc. that may be around the area. This includes bushes, hedges and any other plant you might have close to the area around your pool.

If there are rock or wood piles close to the area, you’ll need to make sure they are as far as possible from your house and pool. If you get rid of places where insects like to gather, you can minimize the wolf spider’s food sources and they will probably go elsewhere to get a meal.

You may also want to discontinue using normal types of outdoor lighting in the pool area because it attracts those tiny little bugs that wolf spiders like to eat. If you do use outdoor lighting, you should probably switch to either yellow or sodium vapor lights for use as outdoor lighting in order to attract fewer bugs.

If you choose to get rid of wolf spiders with chemical treatments, the best products to use are ones made specifically for spider control. Try to find granular pest control treatments containing these ingredients; Deltamethrin and lamda-cyhalothrin. The granules can then be used to create a barrier to keep them from crossing into an area where you don’t want them. Remember that wolf spiders are ground dwellers and it's important to apply the chemical treatments to the ground itself.

As a last resort, you can use physical means to get rid of them. Just stomp on them or beat them with a stick.

Thanks Destiney.


Steve Povolny said...

Found this bad boy in my garage the other night (moved to TX from Minnesota). Needless to say my wife wants to move back immediately :) I personally thought he was an amazing creature. Unfortunately I bowed to feminine pressure and killed the thing so she could sleep at night. I'm sorry friend.

Anonymous said...

We live in Georgia and I just found 3 of them in my yard bin. I'm growing leeks in there. They are huge! Especially one of them. Guessing this one is female and two smaller ones are male. Although I'm not a fan of spider I did not kill them. I made pictures instead :) I'm not sure if they will survive once my husband sees them lol How do I upload pictures?

Anonymous said...

I agree with river walker. It is a black widow. They are all over the place here in Georgia. I just killed one in my daughters bedroom. Be careful they are really dangerous

jschaffer said...

Maybe someone can tell me what's going on in my area? So in the past 2 weeks I've been seeing a lot of these Rabid Wolf Spiders. The picture you have here is exactly what it looks like. However 3 times I've been charged at by them recently and each time was indoors. I grew up in this area and I've seen these ever since I was a little boy. Typically they always seem to run away and hide. What explains these random acts of aggression 3 times in the past 2 weeks? I did notice that the 3 that chased me were a little darker than the typical light tan. Not sure if that makes a difference?


riverwalker said...

To: jschaffer

Wolf spiders aren't normally aggressive unless they feel threatened or "cornered". They are somewhat more aggressive if they are mating and this may account for the behavior you mentioned.



Didomouse said...

Was awoken by spider crawling up my arm. I panicked, kicked dog off bed and made husband kill it while I stood on bed screaming. Sorry but I Have to draw the line somewhere and I dont care how good they may be for killing bugs... Not on my bed!

CAJUNMOMMA , La. said...

I happen to love spiders =) ! And have a Rabid wolf as a pet . I caught Cleopatra on the floor in my apartment about 1 1/2 months ago ( she is in a plastic box with holes ) since then she ate crickets , mealworms , and bugs I catch for her . Well she went in to hideing ( thought the other bugs killed her ) ;) but lo and behold she came out WITH AN EGG SACK ! And tonight SHE'S A MOMMA =) ! I AM SO EXCITED , I Got pics. Of her but can't figure out how to send them =( sorry ! THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE MY EXCITEMENT ! CAJUN MOMMA , La.

Kandy Roo said...

I thought they were called thin legged wolf spiders..this nameis much

CrunchyNomad said...

Aw, love spiders.. Makes me miss Creepy the tarantula. ;_; RIP Creepy.

Anyways. People need to get more informed on the dangerous(and not so dangerous) fauna. Just about every one i know seems to think wolf spiders(and just about every even remotely brown spider) is a brown recluse! *sigh*

Oh, and every BIG spider is a deadly banana spider! >.< Especially my giant garden spiders! Can't tell you how many times neighbors have complained about them(and attempted to eradicate my little colony while i'm out of town!)

Anonymous said...

We have thousands of these guys on our 4 acres out here in Denton County, TX. At night if you shine a flashlight over the grass you can see.thousands of tiny little spider eyes reflecting back at you (I hunted down enough of the 'little lights' to know it was coming from the spiders). They don't get into the house very often but when they do our cats will fight over who gets to eat it after they've killed it. So far they seem ok but would eating a lot of these spiders hurt them?
Thank you for your site, I like spiders and have many jumpers and tarantulas as pets.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree one charged me!!

Anonymous said...

As has been said, spider number one looks like a black widow. It's a little misleading at first, without the typical hourglass, but I believe different species of black widows have different markings. My general rule is if it's black and red, smush it now. Normally I'm big on catching them and moving them outside, but these guys are deadly and I'm not going to risk it.

Heidi said...

On a sleepless night I reached for the remote in the dim light and saw what I thought was a spider ring until it moved. Turns out it was a large female Rabid Wolf Spider. :) I put her back outside then grabbed my camera to take a couple photos of her in the tree next to my porch. She gave me a small fright and a laugh at myself. :P

Unknown said...

No reply... but have a question. Are they harmful to pets such as cats? We think our cat was bitten because there was one of these spiders in her cage in the very top corner. We were cleaning out her cage when we discovered it. Princess (cat) is only in her cage at night from 8pm to bout 6am central time. She is free to roam all day but caged at night for protection.

Anonymous said...

I have seen 4 of these now one was in the sink when we returned home from a week-long vacation and my husband put it outside then there was one in the living room it was really big it was walking kind of slow then yesterday we found a medium sized one with the two front legs being black so I guess it was male. and then today I saw a very small one by the bathroom door in the living room so three of them have been in the living room. I'm worried and very uncomfortable in my home.... They make my hair stand up on end and I get chills and jump a foot if anything touches my foot (I wear boots inside 24/7 like a psycho).... they creep me out! I don't want them in my house they can be in the yard, no problem we have a bee nest on the side of our house and everyday bee's are somehow getting in through the air conditioning window unit or possibly through a hole where the switch plate cover is missing but there's dead bees in our carpet everyday in the living room and I'm wondering if these could possibly be a food source for the spiders? I plan to get rid of the bees and any cracks or holes in the living room. I don't just don't know what to do I'm really scared I know they can't hurt you but that doesn't help me much thank you, any advice would be appreciated.

riverwalker said...

To: Anon 1:19

It is quite possible that the bees are being used as a food source. Normally you may have one or two that wander inside but they usually prefer wood and brush piles outside. When indoors, they will usually make short work of any other insects that may be indoors.


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