Backyard Buddies
Wolf Spider

Photo: Cassidy Photography

Wolf Spider

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Wolf spiders get their name from their hunting preference of stalking down their prey much like a wolf does, making them the top predators in your lawn. They will go after crickets, flies, ants and even other spiders.

The wolf spider is a solitary buddy who enjoys hunting by itself. They live in holes in the lawn but will often roam about looking for their next meal. This buddy does most of its hunting at night, so while you're asleep, the wolf spider is helping keep the insect numbers down in your garden.

Wolf spiders are found all over the world but there are several species just found in Australia. The Garden Wolf Spider is the most common wolf spider in Australia and lives in open woodlands and suburban backyards.

There are several different ways you can see these buddies. At night you can take a torch out to your lawn and follow the light with your eyes. You will see little green reflections shining back at you. These little green dots are spider eyes, and on your lawn you can be confident that they most likely belong to wolf spiders.

Another common time to spot these spiders is when you're digging in the garden. As they spend a lot of time in their holes in your garden, wolf spiders are prone to being dug up. They may look a little stunned at first but they will soon scurry away into the soil to hide and dig a new hole.

The third most common way to see them might be your least favourite. When winter sets in, mum will often bring her egg sac inside your house to escape the cold. You can gently move her and her egg sac outside without injuring them.

The female wolf spider will diligently carry around her egg sac and even help the babies hatch by moistening the shell with her mouth. Once hatched, the babies will be patiently carried around on the mother's back until they are old enough to survive alone.

When the babies are ready to leave, they will often send out web-like tendrils that catch in the wind and will carry them off to new locations. This process is called 'ballooning'

Wolf spiders will generally run away from you and unless provoked, won't bite. If they do bite, their venom has very little effect on humans.

Did you know?

Many spiders rely on their webs and the vibrations given off by animals to catch their prey. Wolf spiders, however, rely almost entirely on their eyesight. Wolf spiders have eight eyes, four small ones in a row and four large ones above these that give them some of the sharpest eyesight of all spiders.

Tip

Don't reach for the fly-spray when you see these guys wandering in or around your house. Instead, put a container on top of them, slide a piece of paper under, and carry them to your lawn.

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Michele – National Parks Ranger, NSW

Photo: OEH