Texas is famous for having everything bigger, so it is not surprising that it is home to over 64 species of the large wolf spiders. Including their leg span, these hairy spiders, which belong to the family Lycosidae, can be as much as four inches across. People sometimes confuse these spiders with the more familiar tarantulas, which are also large, hairy and living in Texas.
Wolf spiders do not spin webs to catch their prey. Instead, as their name implies, they hunt down their food, which is typically other small spiders or insects. While the wolf spider's appearance and name makes it sound and look like a threat to humans, it will generally bite only if threatened.
Wolf spiders usually hunt at night, but can sometimes be found wandering around during the day. As the weather gets colder, these spiders may seek shelter in houses and will usually enter through the lowest level of a home.
The genus Rabidosa of the Lycosidae family, which includes the Texas rabid wolf spider, is one of the most common groups of wolf spiders in Texas. The Texas rabid wolf spider is typically found in eastern and central Texas. It is sometimes referred to as a wandering spider. The body of the female of this species is usually about an inch to two inches long and is larger than the male, which averages about a half an inch in length. Other Rabidosa spiders that live in Texas are the Rapdiosa punctulata or dotted wolf spider, and the Rabidosa hentzi.
The wolf spiders found in the genus Hogna are the largest in the family. Their bodies can be more than an inch in length. Texas is home to nine species of genus Hogna wolf spiders. Hogna spiders range in color from dark brown to light gray, with the females usually being darker than the males. The largest of the Hogna species is the Hogna carolinensis or Carolina wolf spider, which -- despite its name -- can be found in Texas. It is also known in other areas as the giant wolf spider. The Hogna helluo is another Texas species, slightly smaller than the Carolina wolf spider.
Several members of the Geolycosa genus, or burrowing wolf spiders, exist in Texas, including the Geolycosa fatifera and Geolycosa missouriensis. Burrowing wolf spiders need sandy soil in which to live and make their burrows. Unlike other types of wolf spiders that hunt down their food, the burrowing wolf spider waits for its prey to walk by and then ambushes it. However, like other wolf spiders, the burrowing wolf spiders hunt at night. These gray spiders have bodies about an inch in length. There are other wolf spiders in Texas, including the genera Schizocosa and Pirata, but they tend to be smaller than their Hogna, Geolycosa and Rabidosa cousins.
- Texas A&M University: Discover Entomology; Spiders; John A. Jackman, et al.; June 2006
- University of Kentucky Entomology: Wolf Spiders
- Wolf Spiders
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Rabid Wolf Spider
- Go San Angelo; Wild About Texas: Wolf Spiders Have Numerous Relatives; Michael Price; October 2010
- Bugs in the News: Wolf Spider