Skip to content

Carolina Wolf Spider; All you need to know

Wolf Spider is a unique family of spiders that hunt their prey. Unlike other spiders, which make webs to capture prey, most Wolf spiders do not make them.

Many types of wolf spider illicit a strong bite and can sometimes prove very painful. However, none of the wolf spiders is venomous enough to kill humans.

Carolina Wolf Spider is an almond-shaped, light to dark brown hairy spider with multiple black dots on the body and legs. The undersurface of the Carolina Wolf spider is much darker and usually lacks a mottled appearance.

The head appears slightly elevated from the rest of the body by the presence of bright eyes. The cephalothorax has two dark stripes running from one end to the other with a light area in between.

Both the male and female Carolina Wolf spiders appear the same but slightly vary in size and color pattern.

The male is usually smaller with a yellowish stripe on the border of the abdomen and has a body length of 10-12 mm (0.43-0.47 inches). The female has a more uniform color and measures 16-22 mm (0.63-0.83 inches).

The Carolina Wolf Spider, scientifically known as Hogna carolinensis, is the largest type of Wolf Spider. It inhabits almost all the continent of North America, including Canada and the Northern part of Mexico.

I have written this article to help the reader quickly identify the Carolina wolf spider and differentiate it from other family members.

Continue reading this blog to get a complete insight into the Carolina wolf spider, from its appearance to unique facts.

Before you read further, here is a list of hand-picked books to learn more about the world of spiders and bugs.

Common Spiders of North America by Richard A. Bradley
Common Spiders of North America by Richard A. Bradley
  • Field Reference with technical details
  • Great Illustrations
Spiders: Amazing Pictures & Fun Facts on Animals in Nature
Spiders: Amazing Pictures & Fun Facts on Animals in Nature
  • For Kids 5-7 Years
  • Amazing realistic photos
Field Guide to Insects and Spiders: North America
Field Guide to Insects and Spiders: North America
  • Scientific Details
  • Spiders and other common bugs

Appearance and Identification Points of Carolina Wolf Spider

The Carolina Wolf spider can often be confused with other family members like the Rabid Wolf spider. However, the large size and color of the Carolina Wolf spider very quickly help differentiate them.


The Carolina Wolf spider has a varying range of colors. They can appear lightly brown to dark black. Furthermore, the color also depends on light intensity when seeing the spider. The spider appears blacker in low light, especially at dawn and dusk.

The Carolina Wolf Spider usually appears mottled, and the almond-shaped body is completely covered with tiny hairs. However, the undersurface of the abdomen is darker and has a smoother finish. It also lacks the typically dotted appearance.

The spider’s cephalothorax has two dark stripes running all the way down with a lighter space in between. Furthermore, the male Carolina Wolf Spider has an orange-colored stripe along the border of the abdomen, whereas the female lacks such color.

Interestingly unlike other spiders, the head of the Carolina wolf spider appears slightly elevated due to the presence of eyes. Additionally, the eyes appear very bright in a darker environment due to their excellent reflective capability.

The most distinguishable feature of a Carolina Wolf Spider is the ventral leg patterning. They are longer in females than in males. The female Carolina wolf spiders also carry egg sacs when pregnant until they hatch.

Carolina wolf spider Size

It is essential to know that the size of spiders usually refers to the size of the body. However, this does not include the length of the legs. This way, it is easier for scientists to measure them.

The female Carolina Wolf spider’s body is larger than the male and measures 0.63-0.83 inches (16-22 mm).

The male spider measures 0.43-0.47 inches (10-12 mm).

When measured from the tip of the front to hind legs, the Carolina wolf spider measures about 3.5 inches on average, which is the largest measurement among all wolf spiders.


Carolina Wolf Spider is venomous and can bite humans and cause severe pain, burning sensation, and itching. However, it is trivial in most cases and does not have any long-term consequences.

The venom of the Carolina wolf spider is a paralytic agent composed of lycotoxins that disturb neural transmission.

Interestingly, the spider uses its venom only for defense rather than using it to attack other creatures. So the spiders cover themselves with venom, which keeps them safe from being eaten.

Identification Points

Whether it is North Carolina Wolf spider or the Carolina wolf spider, the South appears the same. It’s just the name that varies.

Carolina Wolf spider can be easily identified and differentiated from other Wolf Spiders by following key points,

  1. Carolina Wolf Spider is the biggest and largest spider in his family. If the spider’s body measures greater than half an inch, it’s most likely a Carolina wolf spider.
  2. An orange-colored strip at the border of the abdomen is a unique trait that only male Carolina spiders possess.
  3. Carolina Wolf Spiders have bright black eyes with elevated heads, while the rest usually have flat heads.

To know further and have complete insight, please read the section under appearance.

Carolina Wolf Spider: Distribution and Habitat

Although Carolina Wolf Spider is cold blooded, it has adapted itself to live in almost every part of North America. It includes South Carolina (from where it got its name), Northern Mexico, and Canada.

Interestingly, the Carolina Wolf spider loves to live in open spaces and vast flat landscapes. So they have adapted themselves to live in the woodlands to the warm deserts of Arizona.

All this is possible because they prefer to live underground in burrows and come out only at night, searching for food and mating.

The Carolina wolf spider usually lives inside preconstructed burrows but can construct one for themselves. In deserts, the outside temperature is usually warm. Therefore, they can move deep into the burrow up to 30 cm to keep their body temperature within limits.

Once they have constructed the burrow, the Carolina wolf spider usually makes a bed out of the web. This way, they can keep them in comfort. Furthermore, they also cover the entrance to the pit with leaves or litter to avoid being targeted by predators.

Diet and Life Cycle

Carolina wolf spiders are insectivorous and feed on several tiny insects, including ants, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. Around human dwellings, they can feed on pests, including bed bugs and termites.


Carolina Wolf Spider is a ferocious predator with very sharp eyesight and can easily sense movement in the vicinity.

They usually have adapted themselves to be stealthy. They hide under the leaves or inside the burrows and instantaneously attack a passing prey.

As explained earlier, Carolina wolf spiders are venomous, but they rarely use this ability to attack prey. Instead, they use it to keep themselves safe from other predators.


Reproduction in Carolina Wolf Spider is quite interesting. Like other spiders, the Carolina Wolf spider reproduces sexually. However, the male never injects sperms via genitals. Instead, the male transfers the sperms to tiny appendages located in the front called palps.


The preferred matting time is usually summer for the Carolina Wolf spider because the spiderlings cannot survive in the cold.

Before mating, the male Carolina Wolf spider must attract females so that both develop courtship. First, the male spider approaches the female and extends his forelegs. Next, the male spider will extend and vibrate its palps and abdomen.

Meanwhile, the female spider will either resist and fight the male or carry on with the courtship. If the female doesn’t allow it, the male will run, saving his life because female Wolf spiders are usually more giant and ferocious than males.

If the female spiders carry on with courtship, she will approach the male and extend his front legs allowing the male spider to insert palps repeatedly until they satisfy their needs.

After the mating, the male spiders usually escape because the female usually tries to kill them. It is worth noting that a female Carolina wolf spider only mates once with the same male spider in her lifetime and will never allow re-copulation.

Life Cycle of Carolina Wolf Spider

Interestingly, Carolina wolf spiders have a longer life span compared to others. The average life span of the Carolina Wolf spider can range somewhere from 3 years for males up to 4.5 years for females.

After successfully mating, the female will start to produce eggs within the next couple of months. She will carry the egg sac on her back until they hatch. After hatching the Female Carolina Wolf, spiders take care of the spiderlings for at least a week.

Once they have successfully survived the first week, they will move away and survive independently. After that, spiderlings usually undergo several stages called instars before reaching adulthood.

It takes approximately two years before they are ready for breeding during the summer months. Then, they will start to breed during the third summer of their life. The male dies after their first mating season, and the female carries on to breed for the next two years.

Intelligence and Communication

Carolina Wolf spiders are intelligent species with a well-developed sense of smell, vibration, and very sharp eyesight. These senses are important to locate food, sense danger, communicate with each other, and help them regulate their body temperature.

Carolina Wolf spider communicates with other members with the help of chemicals called pheromones. A spider in danger often releases these odorous chemicals to help other members escape.

Communication via web vibration or substratum based-vibration system is less studied in Carolina Wolf spiders, but this is an essential method of communication in other spiders.

Carolina wolf spiders are fast-moving spiders, but the exact speed remains controversial. The male spiders are faster than females in case of escape from an imminent threat. Otherwise, both usually move at the same speed.

Fun Facts about Carolina Wolf spider

The Carolina wolf spider, or the Wolf Spider South Carolina, has some exciting and unique features, making for fabulous fun facts. Here are some of them,

  1. Carolina Wolf Spider is the official state spider of South Carolina, Declared in the early 2000
  2. Carolina Wolf Spider is among the largest spiders in the world. In its own family, it has got 1st position.
  3. Female Carolina Wolf spiders often attack male spiders, kill and then eat them.
  4. It is common to find Carolina Wolf Spider inside your house in Carolina, especially in summers.
  5. You can even buy or sell Carolina Wolf Spiders in some states in the US.
  1. Spiders of the Kansas Ecological Reserves
  2. Contact with maternal parents and siblings affects hunting behavior, learning, and central nervous system development in spiderlings of Hogna carolinensis (Araneae: Lycosidae
  3. Lycotoxins, Antimicrobial Peptides from Venom of the Wolf Spider Lycosa Carolinensis
  4. Desert adaptations in spiders
  5. Male signaling behavior and sexual selection in a wolf spider (Araneae: Lycosidae): a test for dual functions

Additional Read:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *