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Wolf spider hole in the lawn

Bob Dluzen
Special to The Detroit News

The other day, I pulled the car up next to the garage apron and spotted a round opening in the grass next to the concrete.  It was about the diameter of my forefinger and perfectly round. The grass was pressed and swirled into a neat pattern all the way around its edge.

I recognized the hole as belonging to a wolf spider.

There are about 50 species of wolf spiders indigenous to Michigan, so I can’t tell you which particular one it is.

It is one of the larger ones judging by the size of the hole. Imagine the spider’s body about the same diameter of the hole, then imagine its legs, and you get a pretty good idea of the size of this one. It’s not unusual to find them big enough to span the length and width of the palm of your hand. Some people say these hairy spiders remind them of a partially grown tarantula.

Spider holes like this are not rare but they’re not that common either, conditions have to be just right. The soil needs to be loose, not compacted. Sandy soil is easier for spiders to dig than soils containing a higher percentage of clay or silt. Well-drained locations that dry quickly after a rain are also preferred.

The spider hole appears to be regularly used and not abandoned.  I’ve checked it during different times of the day and night hoping to spot the occupant, no luck so far.

Animals, even spiders, have to rest sometimes. Some species of wolf spiders dig holes for protection while they sleep. Others dig holes as a place to hide while they wait to ambush a passing insect.

Wolf spiders are found wherever their prey is living. Rather than spinning webs to snare their food, they prowl around hunting their prey instead. That holds true for all species of this spider family.

Like other spiders, their diet consists mostly of insects. Often you will run across a wolf spider if you move an outdoor object that is acting as a shelter for insects such as wood from a wood pile or lawn furniture that has been stored for a while. You can also find them in storage sheds, barns or other outdoor structures.

Because of their size, wolf spiders can be intimidating to most people. They have venom which they use to kill or paralyze their insect prey. They usually don’t bite unless provoked or disturbed in some way. What may be normal behavior to a person might be provocative to a spider so it’s best to leave them alone. I’ve never been bitten by one but their bite has been compared to a wasp sting.

If they are in an area where you don’t want, scoop them up using a container and release them where they won’t bother anyone.

They sometimes enter homes looking for shelter, most commonly in the fall as the weather starts getting cold. I’ve found assorted small species of wolf spiders in my house on occasion during the years but never one of the really big ones.

Now that I know where my wolf spider spends part of its time, maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of it entering or exiting its hole.