A large, hairy gray spider – Wolf Spider in my Lantana

Arizona hairy spider

Wolf spiders are expert hunters and pretty easy to identify due to their large size and hairy bodies.  If touched or threatened a Wolf spider will bite.   I was careful while observing this large gray, grey, Wolf spider that made his home in our Lantana plant.

Arizona hairy spider
grey hairy Arizona Wolf Spider

Wolf Spiders have over 2,000 species and are members of the Lycosidae family. They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone. Some Wolf spiders will chase their prey and others will wait in their burrow for passing prey.  Wolf spiders are fast runners.

hairy spiders Arizona
Wolf Spiders, Lycosidae Family

Arizona Wolf spiders are generally hairy with varying colors from browns and grays.  Sometimes this spider will have a pattern along the back of the abdomen and head.  Wolf spiders have good camouflage for living in the desert.  They depend on camouflage for protection.

wolf spider
Gray Wolf Spider Eyes

The photo above and below shows the eyes of the Wolf spider.  They have eight eyes in three horizontal rows;  with 4 small eyes on the bottom, 2 large eyes in the middle and 2 medium eyes on the top.

eyes of hairy wolf spider
Arizona Wolf Spider, eyes
desert Wolf Spider
AZ Wolf spider row of eyes,  fangs – chelicera

The light from the flashlight has been reflected from the Wolf spider’s eyes producing a glow in the photo below.  According to the Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum, the eye shine is caused by a tapetum in the eye which reflects light rays back through the eye retina and probably enhances the spider’s night vision. Wolf spiders are primarily nocturnal predators and are rarely seen during the day.

wolf spider eyes glow
wolf spiders eyes glow with the flashlight
desert spiders long legs
large gray male wolf spider

The male Wolf spider has two additional leg-like appendages, called palps, that are attached behind the mouthparts.  These palps are used to hold and position prey and in the mating ritual.  Female Wolf spiders are larger than males.

palp of a male wolf spider
visible Palp of a Male Wolf Spider

Female Wolf spiders carry their egg case at the end of the abdomen by attaching it to their spinnerets.  The female spider holds her abdomen up in the air so the egg sac doesn’t drag on the ground.  When the spiderlings hatch they climb onto the female Wolf spider’s abdomen and hold her hairs.

Wolf spiders are capable of defensive bites if provoked.  Symptoms of the Wolf Spider’s venomous bite include swelling, pain, redness and itching.  The skin area at the Wolf spider bite may turn black. Swelling and pain can last up to ten days.

hairy light brown spider
wolf spiders in the desert southwest

Nevertheless, having wolf spiders is considered favorable because they consume undesirable arachnids.  I’m quite happy to have this Wolf spider guarding our large Lantana shrub.


Author: tjsgarden

We are a family that loves the Arizona Desert. A lot of research and team efforts go into our articles and photos. Come discover the beauty and mystery with us. Don't forget your sunscreen!

4 thoughts on “A large, hairy gray spider – Wolf Spider in my Lantana”

  1. If I pulled back the leaves of a lantana and found one of those beasties I’d have a heart attack! i love lantana but rarely see them here and they won’t survive winter.


  2. I’m so glad we don’t have venomous spiders here! He does look cute and cuddly though! Have you ever had a bite from something poisonous in your garden?


    1. No not that I know of. Many times you can be bitten and not know, all spiders are venomous and sometimes it looks like a red bump. Very few are harmful to humans. This hairy guy eats all the harmful bugs off the plants. 🙂 Have a great weekend Cathy!


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