The first thing we think about when we hear the word “spider” is “spider web.” However, not all spiders spin webs! Some families of spiders resort to other hunting techniques to catch prey. Is the wolf spider family among them, or do they prefer making webs rather than chasing the prey and pouncing on it? Keep reading, and you’ll learn everything about it!
Do Wolf Spiders Make Webs?
Most wolf spiders do not make webs, which is one of the unique things about this family of spiders. Some researchers believe this happened because spinning webs were not enough for wolf spiders to survive.
Wolf spiders have just gone beyond the ordinary and looked for strengths that other spiders have never even thought they had! They had to develop other skills to hunt prey and protect themselves from predators. Nowadays, most species rely on their physical strengths and have become robust and agile predators. Moreover, they are among the world’s only spiders with excellent eyesight!
What if we told you that some wolf spiders had evolved so much that they can now use an escaping technique called leg autotomy? In other words – self-amputation. It’s a behavior in which the animal discards one (or more!) of its appendages, which later can be regenerated. You probably know this is pretty common in reptiles and amphibians. Lizards and salamanders, for instance, shed parts of their tails if a human being or an animal predator catches them. Some tails may even wriggle upon detachment.
Recent studies indicate that wolf spiders can also do this! How cool is that? Research based on the Pardosa milvina species concluded that they “lose legs,” and 8-legged spiders can even autotomize multiple legs!
Another study focused on 43 encounters between Schizocosa avida, another wolf spider species, and a Centruroides vittatus, a scorpion species. Of these 43 encounters, the wolf spider managed to detach its leg successfully seven times! Even though during 79% of the encounters, wolf spiders were killed by the scorpions, it’s still impressive they managed to use leg autotomy! Moreover, other spiders could escape the scorpion by other means, which indicates wolf spiders are indeed more creative than other arachnids in terms of predation and escape!
What Wolf Spider Species Make Webs?
While it would be impossible to list all wolf spider species that spin webs (even though there aren’t many), not all species have been thoroughly described, so their lifestyle and behavior aren’t completely known to people. This means some species may spin webs, but we still haven’t found this out!
However, we can share one species scientifically confirmed to make webs – the spiders in the Venonia genus (Venonia coruscans, for example). This species is commonly called the Australian/oriental wolf spider. A study shows that the Venonia genus is “one of the few true web-building genera within the Lycosidae.” These wolf spiders make sheet webs on meadows, lawns, under tree roots, and in soil depressions.
Other studies show that the spiders in the Sosippus genus are also web-building wolf spiders. They produce a funnel web that resembles the web created by spiders in the Agelenidae family, known as grass spiders. Sosippus spiders inhabit areas ranging from Central America to the southern United States.
How Do Wolf Spiders Hunt?
Most wolf spiders chase their prey. Others, however, prefer silently waiting in their burrows until something that can be eaten passes by. They use their physical strengths to find food. Besides having excellent eyesight, wolf spiders can run at a speed of up to two feet per second! Moreover, they use their sensitivity to vibrations to sense when something approaches their burrows.
Once they spot prey, they jump on it, holding it between their legs and trapping it with their limbs. Afterward, they bite the prey and inject the venom, thus paralyzing it and, lastly, feeding on it.
What Do Wolf Spiders Eat?
Wolf spiders primarily eat insects and other spiders. They eat crickets, grasshoppers, and even cockroaches. Larger wolf spiders may even eat small amphibians and reptiles! They are good to have around since they feed on insects and bugs considered pests in houses, farms, and gardens.
Other Spiders That Don’t Make Webs
If you’re wondering what other spiders don’t spin webs, here’s a list:
1. Phidippus audax
These spiders are commonly called bold jumping spiders, and they live in North America. They have large eyes and black bodies with white spots. Some young, bold jumping spiders may have orange spots on their bodies. They don’t spin webs to catch prey.
2. Salticus scenicus
Salticus scenicus is called the zebra jumping spider. It lives in the Northern Hemisphere and has a black-and-white coloration. Zebra jumping spiders feed on smaller spiders and insects. Like wolf spiders, they do not spin webs to catch prey.
3. Eris militaris
Eris militaris spiders are found in the United States and Canada. These arachnids prefer chasing prey and pouncing on it rather than using webs to catch it. People often call them bronze lake jumpers or simply bronze jumpers.
4. Dolomedes triton
These spiders are commonly called six-spotted fishing spiders or dock spiders. They live in North America’s wetland habitats. While they do not use webs to facilitate catching prey, their silk is important in adapting to aquatic environments.
5. Aphonopelma hentzi
Texas brown tarantulas, also called Missouri tarantulas or Oklahoma brown tarantulas, are common in the Southern United States. They are large arachnids that do not make webs to catch prey.