Spiders Without Webs

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By Denise D. Greaves, Ph.D.
All photos © Denise D. Greaves, 2011

I recently found a spider in the house that definitely was not an ordinary house spider. It turns out that it was a wolf spider (family Lycosidae); since there are over 2,000 species of wolf spider, I have not yet had the time to see whether I can find an exact identification. Wolf spiders are stout and hairy, have relatively thick legs, and are usually colored in tones of gray and/or brown. This body of this specimen (i.e., not including legs) was a bit under an inch long.

Wolf spiders do not use a web to catch prey. They have better eyesight than most spiders; this, combined with their body strength, enables them to catch their victims by pouncing. Their eight eyes, four anterior and four posterior, are rather prominent. The four anterior eyes are spaced tightly in a row. The posterior eyes are larger, two positioned above the anterior eyes and two farther back on the head and facing sideways and rearward.

Wolf Spider, 01 March 2011, San Jose, CA

Wolf spider, 01 March 2011, San Jose, CA

Detail showing wolf spider eyes, 01 March 2011, San Jose, CA

The right rear eye may seen more clearly in this photo. 01 March 2011, San Jose, CA.

All photos were taken with a Nikon D-5000.

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3 Responses to Spiders Without Webs

  1. Michael says:

    Yes, that’s indeed a wolf spider. Wolf spiders are members of the Lycosidae family and there are about 125 species found all across America and there are 50 species throughout Europe (not 2,000). They are brown and gray with diverse stripe-like markings on their backs and they are extremely hairy. See here for info: wolfspider.org

  2. Jeff says:

    I do not believe this to be a wolf spider. I have caught two of these and called the Cal Academy of Science. This is a Zoropsis Spinimana from the Mediterranean region that started showing up in the bay area around 1992. Harmless, but big and scarry looking.

  3. Alina says:

    I agree on the Zoropsis Spinimana. I just found one with identical markings on my terrace in Southern Italy. Scared me for a moment there, since I’ve had a bad infection following a spider bite before, so it’s good to know this one is harmless!

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