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Wolf spiders are relatively large spiders that belong to the lycosidae family, which consists of numerous species, 200 of which dwell within the United States. Some wolf spider species are well suited to more arid regions while others require relatively moist conditions in order to survive. Every type of American environment is home to at least one wolf spider species. Although wolf spiders are not considered aggressive toward humans, they are certainly aggressive toward their prey, as their common name derives from their habit of pouncing on their prey like wolves. Wolf spiders can be recognized by their dark bodily hue and their unique eye formation, which consists of one row of four eyes beneath two rows containing two eyes each. The  Hogna baltimoriana and Gladicosa gulosa species of wolf spider are commonly spotted in Massachusetts, but other species have been reported in the state as well. Wolf spiders are abundant within residential yards in Massachusetts during the warmer months, but come fall, wolf spiders often look for shelter within homes.

Wolf spiders dwell within natural burrows or burrows that the spiders build themselves. Wolf spiders prefer to build their burrows within areas of loose soil, making lawns containing porous and loose soil an ideal habitat for wolf spiders. Wolf spiders also gravitate into yards containing loose rocks, wood litter and tree route hollows, as these locations also provide wolf spiders with a ready-made form of shelter. Wolf spiders prey on numerous insect species that are common within residential yards. These insects include, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and ants. Applying insecticide to lawns has proven useful as a spider control strategy, but insecticide should not be the only form of wolf spider management. Wolf spiders are best controlled by ridding a lawn of materials that the spiders use for shelter. Wolf spiders prefer to dwell indoors for the winter, as heated homes are typically not far from outdoor wolf spider habitats. Wolf spiders can be prevented from entering a home by having cracks and openings on a home’s exterior caulked. The presence of other structures on a property, such as barns or sheds, can also attract wolf spiders seeking shelter.

Have you ever found a large hairy spider within your home?