Wolf spider with spiderlings on its back

Figure 1: Wolf spider with spiderlings on her abdomen. Photo by M. Kralich

Wolf spiders are abundant in many different environments in Montana from grasslands to forests. They are hunting spiders, so they don’t build webs to catch their prey. Rather, they ambush or stalk their prey. Some build silk-lined burrows while others find retreats under rocks, vegetation, and other debris. Unlike most spiders, they have excellent vision that is used for prey capture. They also have a distinctive and diagnostic eye pattern. The females have the unique behavior of attaching their egg sacs to their spinnerets and then allowing the hatched spiderlings to remain on their abdomens until they are ready to disperse and be independent (Fig. 1).

Life Cycle:

The life cycles of wolf spiders are highly variable with some species living for multiple years and others having only a one-year life cycle. Some wolf spiders will be active on warmer winter days while other species will have offspring overwintering in egg sacs. They are harmless spiders; however, some wolf spiders, such as the Carolina wolf spider, can be quite large. They are beneficial predators in several different ecosystems.




To learn more about the topics discussed on this page, contact MSU Extension arthropod diagnostician Dr. Laurie Kerzicnik.  If you suspect an infestation on your property, contact your local extension agent, the Schutter Diagnostic Lab at Montana State University, or the Montana Department of Agriculture.

 This December fact sheet is also available as a printable PDF (461KB).


Disclaimer: These recommendations are provided only as a guide. It is always the pesticide applicator’s responsibility, by law, to read and follow all current label directions for the specific pesticide being used. The authors and Montana State University assume no liability resulting from the use of these recommendations. The Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/ EO/AA/Veteran’s Preference Employer and Provider of Educational Outreach.