Hobo Spider vs Wolf Spider – How To Tell The Difference

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wolf spider

Hobo spider vs wolf spider! Can you tell these two spiders apart? Although they both look similar, there are key differences when it comes to their appearance, venom, behavior, speed, reproduction and habitats. You can sometimes find these arachnids in the home, so if you see one scuttling across the room, you will want to know if they can cause you any harm and what action you should take. Today we look closely at the hobo spider vs wolf spider, how they compare and if they are dangerous.

Contents

Hobo Spider vs Wolf Spider Classification

Many people don’t realize that the hobo spider and the wolf spider are two totally different species. The hobo spider belongs to the Agelenidae family, whereas the wolf spider belongs to the Lycosidae family. But what are the differences between the hobo spider and wolf spider families?

The hobo spider is part of the funnel weaver family because they build funnel-shaped webs. However, the wolf spider is the only member of the Lycosidae family and does not build webs.

Hobo Spider vs Wolf Spider Names

The hobo spider received its common name because it is believed they spread throughout the United States by hitching rides with humans as they travelled in their vehicles along the highways.

The wolf spider’s name comes from its scientific name Lycosiduae. “Lyco” means “wolf” in Greek as these spiders hunt like wolves, chasing and pouncing on their prey. But unlike wolves, who are pack animals, the wolf spider is a solitary creature who hunts alone. Wolf spiders are also known as hunting spiders or ground spiders.

Appearance of the Hobo Spider vs Wolf Spider

The hobo spider and the wolf spider appear to look the same, being brown and hairy with a striped marking across the dorsal, but there are significant differences on closer inspection. Wolf spiders are the larger of the two being at least half an inch bigger than the hobo spider, and also have more hair making the wolf spider look extra scary and threatening!

wolf spider

The hobo spider comes in a variety of browns with indistinguishable stripes and chevrons across the abdomen, with the points of the V-shaped markings pointing towards the head. The wolf spider comes in camouflage colors, such as brown, orange, black and gray, with various lines and markings. Sometimes they are all one color, but mostly they have some sort of stripes or patterns.

hobo spider

Both species have long legs, although the legs of the hobo spider are marginally longer, being web-building spiders.

Hobo Spider vs Wolf Spider Eyesight

There are fundamental differences in the eyes and eyesight of these two species of spiders.

The hobo spider has eight dark eyes of equal size positioned in two almost straight rows across the face. These spiders have poor vision and can only see objects two feet in front of them.

In comparison, the wolf spider has excellent vision, with its eyes arranged differently. Two large eyes beam from the top of their head, two more gaze out at the front, while four smaller eyes form a row just above the mouth, all designed for their predatory habits.

The wolf spider uses its eyes like an odometer and compass, tracking the distance and direction of its prey. The eyes work both in the daytime and at night, but, unlike ours, they don’t move back and forth, so the wolf spider must move their bodies to see something. The eyes of the wolf spider are reflective, and their eyes glow if you shine a light on them.

Hobo Spider vs Wolf Spider Habitat

The fundamental differences between the hobo spider and the wolf spider are in their habitat and behaviors, particularly their hunting styles.

Hobo Spider

As we have discovered, the hobo spider creates funnel-shaped webs constructed of silk sheeting to catch its prey. The spider lies waiting at the funnel’s narrow end for an unsuspecting insect to stumble into its trap. Any prey caught in the web triggers vibrations along the silky structure, alerting the spider.

You will often find these webs built close to the ground, mostly hidden under objects like rocks or in tall vegetation. If the hobo spider builds a web indoors, it will likely be in a damp area like a basement, close to the ground, as they are not good climbers.

Wolf Spider

The wolf spider does not create any webs or nests but instead can adapt to various habitats where it is likely to find insects to eat, such as in grasslands or suburban gardens. They will often dig a burrow in the ground, usually under something like a rock or a log.

Sometimes wolf spiders will wait for their prey to walk by and ambush it. Other times they will hunt them down and seize them. They then hold the insect between their legs before biting them and injecting their venom, paralyzing them.

When the weather becomes colder, the wolf spider searches for a warmer environment, which is when you may discover them in the home in places like the garage or basement or in doors or windows.

Wolf Spider vs Hobo Spider Reproduction

The hobo spider and the wolf spider significantly differ in their breeding habits. The female hobo spider produces one to four egg sacs containing 50 to 100 eggs. The sacs attach to the web, and she stands guard.

In contrast, the female wolf spider carries the sacs on her back until the baby wolf spiders hatch, whereby she opens the sacs so they can escape. The young spiders then climb onto the mother’s back, staying there for about a week until they become independent and can fend for themselves.

Hobo Spider Vs Wolf Spider Speed

One similarity that the hobo spider and the wolf spider have in common is that they both move fast. A wolf spider needs to be fast to stop its prey if it tries to get away, even though they often tend to ambush. The hobo spider moves fast mainly due to its long web making legs.

hobo spider on leaf

Venom in the Hobo Spider vs Wolf Spider

If you find a hobo spider or wolf spider in your home, you will be worried that you might get bitten. Neither of these spiders will intentionally bite you unless they feel threatened.

While both species of spiders have venom in their bite, a bite from a hobo spider is more serious than one from a wolf spider, especially if the victim is a child, elderly, or a person in ill health.

If you get bitten, either trap the spider in a container or take a picture to identify the species and seek immediate medical attention. A bite from a wolf spider is the equivalent of a prick or sting unless you have an allergic reaction, whereby you will also need to seek medical attention.

What is the Difference Between a Hobo Spider and Wolf Spider

As we have found out, there are many similarities between the hobo spider and the wolf spider, which is why many people cannot tell them apart. However, they have several differences, especially regarding their behaviors and hunting techniques.

Hobo spiders create funnel webs to catch their prey, whereas a wolf spider digs a burrow in the ground and hunts down their prey.

More About Spiders

References

  • 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.

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