Wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi.

The garden wolf spider.

Wolf spiders

Wolf spiders are found throughout Australia and are often seen wandering suburban lawns and gardens at night in search of prey.

  • 31 October 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011

Description

The garden wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi, is one of the most widespread species of wolf spider in Australia and common across the southern and eastern mainland.

They are large, robust spiders growing up to 25 mm in body length. They are grey-brown in colour with a pattern of bars on the abdomen and radiating marks on the head and thorax.

Garden wolf spiders have eight eyes, usually two very large eyes looking forward, two smaller facing up and a row of four small eyes below. They have yellowish fang-bases under the head.

Wolf spiders can often be seen sitting just inside the entrance to their burrows in suburban lawns and gardens.

As its name suggests the garden wolf spider is common in suburban gardens but can also be found in:

  • open areas
  • paddocks
  • grassland. 

There are many other species of wolf spiders in all parts of Australia, most differing from the garden wolf spider in size and colour.

Life history

Garden wolf spiders live in vertical burrows, usually in the ground with a collar of silk but no lid.

Other species of wolf spider, as well as some trapdoor spiders, make a lid for the opening of their burrow.

Wolf spiders may sit at the lip of their burrow and when provoked, rear up in defence or quickly retreat inside.

Female wolf spiders carry their egg sac attached to spinnerets under the abdomen and may 'sun' it periodically until the young hatch. Upon hatching the spiderlings swarm over their mother and are carried around on her back for a few days before dispersing.

Mature wolf spiders roam in search of prey, sometimes wandering into homes, but cannot breed or survive long indoors.

Pest status and management

Wolf spiders will bite if provoked. The effects of a bite are usually mild and may result in localised pain, swelling and itching, nausea and headaches. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.

No control is necessary outdoors and spiders that wander indoors can be removed outdoors or killed.

CSIRO Entomology is not currently researching wolf spiders. This fact sheet is provided for information only.

State museums and Canberra Connect in the ACT will usually provide identification and advice for the general public.

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