Identifying Florida Wolf Spiders

Although most people react strongly to the sight of a spider, the truth is that only two species pose any real threat to humans in North America. Besides the black widow and brown recluse spider, no other species of spider in the United States packs a bite capable of injecting enough poison to do any real damage to a human being. One of the most common mistakes Florida residents make is misidentifying the harmless wolf spider for the deadly brown recluse. Although many find it difficult to tell the difference, it's actually quite easy to identify the Florida wolf spider.

Appearance

Although harmless to humans, wolf spiders induce fear in many people because of their large, thick and hairy appearance. Wolf spiders can grow as large as two inches in size, however the thickness of their limbs often make then look much larger than average spiders. Florida wolf spiders are generally gray or light brown and have two large forword-facing eyes resting above four smaller ones. Wolf spiders are easily distinguished from brown recluse spiders based on the differences in limb size and the brown recluse's tell-tale violin shape.

Behavior

There are over 2,000 species of wolf spiders and each behaves slightly differently than the other. Most Florida wolf spiders are almost exclusively ground-dwelling creatures. While some Florida wolf spiders hunt mainly at night, others take advantage of their camouflage and search along the dirt, within vegetation, and atop the surface of small ponds for prey during the day.

Benefits

Wolf spiders are often confused for the poisonous brown recluse spider and killed without provocation. Although wolf spiders do carry a small amount of venom, they generally pose no threat to most healthy humans. In fact, wolf spiders can actually help reduce the number of poisonous spiders in and around homes because they compete for territory.

Prevention

Although Florida wolf spiders pose no real threat to humans, they are considered to be pests by many. If you would like to reduce the number of wolf and other kinds of spiders on your property, your best bet is to create an unfavorable habitat. Keep lumber and woodpiles several feet from your home and prevent vegetation from overgrowing. Also, make sure to seal all cracks and crevices that lead into your home from the outside. You can use caulking for smaller cracks and fine wire mesh for larger ones.