Wolf spiders. They’re big, they’re hairy, and they’re terrifying people in homes up and down the coast of Florida.
After the recent storm, our customers and technicians are reporting an increase in wolf spider activity, especially around New Smyrna Beach. Though they may appear to be the most frightening pest in Florida (we don’t blame you), wolf spiders are actually quite helpful and near-harmless.
Not convinced? Read below for everything you need to know about wolf spiders, why they’re coming inside, and what you can do to stop it from happening.
What Do Wolf Spiders Look Like?
Wolf spiders are named for their uncanny resemblance to wolves. They can grow as big as 2” long and appear striped in all shades of black, brown, and gray, distinguished by two large central eyes. While they may not howl at the moon, wolf spiders are larger, hairier, and prowl further than most other spiders. The Lycosidae (from the Greek word for wolf) family includes more than 2,000 different species of wolf spider, of which at least 30 live in Florida.
In the sunshine state, wolf spiders are sometimes mistaken for huntsman spiders (longer legs), brown recluse spiders (less hairy, violin mark on back), and tarantulas (even bigger and more hairy, don’t even live in Florida).
Why Do Wolf Spiders Come Inside?
Constantly on the prowl for their three keys to survival: food, shelter, and mates, wolf spiders frequently make their way into Florida homes. Fall is both peak hunting and mating season for these predators. The recent flooding and temperature drops cut down heavily on insect food sources, driving many remaining bugs inside, often through newly created entry points.
Instead of spinning webs, overpowering prey with superior eyesight, dexterity, and strength is the wolf spider’s hunting strategy. They stalk from shadowy crevices, waiting for the opportunity to lurch at an unsuspecting meal. Wolf spiders are especially known for their athleticism. Their jerky movements and far-reaching jumps tend to catch horrified homeowners off-guard.
Do Wolf Spiders Bite?
Wolf spiders raise their front legs and expose their fangs to intimidate potential threats. They are notorious for jumping at and darting away from potential captors. Worry not, though wolf spider bites can happen, they are uncommon and only bring a few minutes of mild pain no worse than a bee sting. Slight swelling and itchiness can occur.
How Do You Handle Wolf Spiders?
When encountering a wolf spider in your home, we recommend calmly covering it with a plastic container and sliding a sturdy, flat material underneath. This will allow you to safely pick up the wolf spider and release it outside, away from your home, where it will continue to dine away on pests that may otherwise end up indoors. Do not attempt to crush a wolf spider. Females carry their young in an egg sac that breaks when struck, scattering hundreds of baby spiders.
How Do Wolf Spiders Get Inside?
Wolf spiders are enticed into Florida homes by the opportunity for food, shelter, and mates. To dissuade them:
A.) Eliminate entry points (for prey insects and the wolf spiders that hunt them)
- Check that all seals, screens, and covers are intact.
- Look for and fill in cracks on the exterior of your home, especially in the foundation, underneath doors, and around water pipes
- Ensure doors and windows do not remain open
B.) Minimize attractive hunting areas
- Cut down on clutter around the exterior and in the garage (leaves, palm fronds, gutter clogs, cardboard, wood, rocks, construction materials, and yard equipment)
- Reduce exterior nighttime lighting touching against the house
- Ensure proper yard maintenance and indoor sanitation
- Bring down outdoor water levels by shrinking shaded areas
C.) Utilize professional pest control treatment performed by a trained Greenhouse professional
Evan at Greenhouse