Wolf Spider

Hogna Species

 

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.

Ninja's Notes:

These are just big and ugly and big and ugly... and big and ugly.  Always have big boots, or one of those "Crocodile Dundee" type knives on hand if you see one.  In truth, these are actually a BENEFICIAL spider (It hunts and eats those little Brown Recluse nasties).  Now... when I see one I really don't care HOW beneficial it is... I can only think of jumping down from the top rope and obliterating it.  I am sure that you feel the same way.  I cannot confirm or deny that I have destroyed a room in the past making sure that it didn't leave the room that I found it in.  Don't destroy your home.  The Bug Ninja has wonderful (non-destructive) ways of making this lil guy go bye-bye.

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