Can you differentiate a hobo spider from a wolf spider? While they may seem similar, there are distinctions between these two spiders regarding their appearance, behavior, speed, venom, reproduction, and habitats. As they can be found in homes, it’s crucial to know if they are harmful and what necessary steps to take when encountering them. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the hobo spider versus the wolf spider, how they differ, and if they pose any danger.
Classification of Hobo Spider and Wolf Spider
Most people don’t know that the hobo spider and the wolf spider belong to different species. The hobo spider comes from the funnel weaver family known as Agelenidae, while the wolf spider is the only member of the Lycosidae family and does not build webs.
Names of Hobo and Wolf Spider
The hobo spider’s common name was derived from the belief that they hitchhiked with humans in their vehicles, spreading throughout the United States. On the other hand, the wolf spider earned its name from its scientific name Lycosiduae, which means ‘wolf’ in Greek, due to its hunting tactics, similar to wolves, but these spiders are one-man hunters. Wolf spiders are also referred to as hunting spiders or ground spiders.
Appearance of Hobo and Wolf Spider
At first glance, the hobo spider and the wolf spider look alike with their brown and hairy body and striped dorsal markings. However, on closer inspection, there are key differences. While both have long legs, the wolf spider is larger than the hobo spider, and its additional hair makes it appear more frightening. The hobo spider comes in different shades of brown with indistinguishable chevrons and stripes across their abdomen, with the V-shaped markings pointing toward their head. The wolf spider comes in an array of colors, such as brown, gray, orange, and black, with distinctive lines and shapes on their body. Sometimes they are of a single color, but mostly have stripes or patterns.
Eyesight of Hobo and Wolf Spider
Both spiders differ in their eyes and eyesight. The hobo spider has eight small but equal-sized dark eyes arranged in a straight line across their face, whereas wolf spiders have four large eyes on top of their head and two tiny eyes in front of them, designed to assist them in hunting prey. Wolf spiders have an excellent sense of distance and direction, and their large eyes work both during the day and night. Wolf spider’s eyes are reflective and glows when a light is shone on them, but they do not move back and forth like human eyes do.
Habitat of Hobo and Wolf Spider
The fundamental differences between the hobo spider and the wolf spider revolve around their habitat, behavior, and predation techniques. Hobo spiders construct funnel-shaped webs using silk sheeting to lure and trap their prey. These webs are typically situated close to the ground and shielded in tall vegetation or under rocks, and if they were constructed indoors, they’re likely to be located in damp areas like the basement. Unlike the hobo spider, the wolf spider does not build webs but digs burrows in the ground, typically beneath rocks or logs, and adapts to various habitats such as grasslands and suburban gardens. Wolf spiders either pounce on their prey or stalk them before attacking them.
Reproduction of Hobo and Wolf Spider
Another considerable difference between hobo spiders and wolf spiders is their breeding habits. Female hobo spiders yield one to four egg sacs having 50 to 100 eggs each, which attach to their web, and the female guards the eggs. In contrast, female wolf spiders mount the sacs on their backs until the baby wolf spiders are born, where they create openings on the sac, allowing them to exit. The young ones then climb onto the mother’s back where they remain for about a week before fending for themselves.
Speed of Hobo and Wolf Spider
Hobo and wolf spiders share a similarity in their speed. While wolf spiders are fast to prevent their prey from running away, the hobo spiders are highly active due to their lengthy webbing legs, which enables them to scuttle quickly.
Venom of Hobo and Wolf Spider
Though they both have venom in their bites, neither hobo spider nor wolf spider will intentionally bite unless they feel threatened. They are cautious creatures that don’t want to waste their venom on something that doesn’t threaten them. Although bites from both spiders will result in swelling and redness, hobo spider’s bite is more severe than that of the Wolf spider. In particular, if the victim is a child, elderly, or an individual in poor health, Urgent medical attention is necessary.
Distinguishing between Hobo Spider and Wolf Spider
Although hobo and wolf spiders may appear similar, several distinctions exist between them. Their behaviors and predation techniques vary significantly, with hobos creating funnel-shaped webs to catch their prey and wolves digging burrows in the ground to hunt for theirs.
More on Spiders
- Davis, Ryan S. Hobo Spider Eratigena agrestis. Utah Pests Fact Sheet Utah State University. 2016.
- The Eight-Legged Wolf with Stars in its Eyes. RoundGlass.
- Cirino, Erica. Hobo Spider Bite. Healthline. 2018.
- WebMD Editorial Contributors. What You Need to Know About a Wolf Spider Bite. WebMD. 2021.