Edward L. Manigault, Clemson University Donated Collection, Bugwood.org
Hogna [previously known as Lycosa ] species
There are thirteen genera of wolf spiders in the United States. The genus Hogna contains numerous species and includes some of the biggest wolf spiders in our area. Two notable species, H. carolinensis and H. aspersa , are among the largest and most commonly encountered in Pennsylvania homes.
Hogna carolinensis females are 22 to 35 millimeters in length, and the males are 18 to 20 millimeters. The carapace is a dark brown with scattered gray hairs that are typically not arranged in any discernible pattern. The abdomen is similarly colored, with a somewhat darker dorsal stripe. The legs are a solid color.
Hogna aspersa females are 18 to 25 millimeters in length, and the males are 16 to 18 millimeters. They are similar to H. carolinensis in body color but have a distinct narrow line of yellow hairs on the carapace in the vicinity of the eyes. The legs are banded with a lighter brown color at the joints. The males are much lighter in color than the females, and only their third and fourth pairs of legs are banded with a lighter color.
Both of these spiders are found in similar habitats and have similar habits. Hogna spiders build retreats (holes or tunnels) in the soil; under and between boards, stones, and firewood; under siding; and in similar protected areas. They are hunting spiders and only come out of hiding during the night to look for prey. Mating occurs in the autumn, and the males die before the onset of winter. The fertilized females overwinter in protected locations, including human-made structures, and produce egg cocoons the following May or June. The spiderlings hatch in June and July and will attain only half of their full size by the following winter. They too will overwinter in protected sites and complete their growth the following spring and summer. The females may live for several years beyond the year in which they reach maturity. It is common to find the females carrying their young spiderlings on their backs during the summer months.
Wolf spiders will bite if handled or if trapped next to the skin. However, their venoms are not very harmful to humans, which is fortunate since the Hogna species are very large spiders whose bites could do serious damage if their venoms were more potent. Typical reactions include initial pain and redness, which subsides with time. No serious medical consequences of these bites have been noted.
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Authored by: Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate
March 2002 Revised 2015