What Do Wolf Spiders Eat

Wolf spiders are one of the most widespread families of spiders in the world and more often than not, it’s not uncommon to find them in our homes when it’s cold outside. But, considering they’re often referred to as beneficial animals, what do wolf spiders eat?

Wolf spiders mostly feed on insects – flies, mosquitoes, crickets, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. They’ll also eat other spiders and small vertebrates (lizards and frogs) if they have the opportunity.

While they are venomous spiders, they’re not a threat to people. Read on to learn all about what wolf spiders eat and what impact they can have on our homes.

What Do Wolf Spiders Eat In the Wild?

Since wolf spiders are found in many different habitats in the wild – anything from woodland to meadows and gardens – their eating habits vary depending on what else lives nearby.

They mostly feed on small insects and very small vertebrates, such as crickets, ants, grasshoppers, houseflies, cockroaches, small lizards, and frogs.

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Wolf Spiders Feeding Habits in Winter

Just the same as most other animals, wolf spiders eat less in the winter because there is less food available. Spending most of their time sheltered from the harsh weather, they are able to conserve energy allowing them to slow down their metabolism and consequently, they need less food.

The diet of the wolf spider stays the same during the winter, it is just eaten in smaller quantities because of how difficult it is for them to seek out.

Do Wolf Spiders Eat Other Spiders?

Wolf spiders are known to engage in cannibalism if an opportunity arises. However, they won’t hunt a spider larger than them for fear of a retaliation attack.

How Do Wolf Spiders Catch and Eat Their Prey

Mostly night hunters, wolf spiders don’t construct webs to catch their prey, preferring instead to wait in their burrows until something interesting walks past. They will then stalk and ambush their unsuspecting victims. In fact, this species got its name from this wolf-like behavior.

Wolf spiders not only have impeccable eyesight (third best, after jumping spiders and huntsman spiders), but they also use vibrations to sense nearby activity. This sense is so acute, they can feel the vibrations caused by beating wings as well as crawling or skittering.

They kill their prey by injecting venom and then rolling the insect into a ball and waiting for the meat to liquefy. When the insect turns into a smoothie, they drink the insides.

What to Feed Pet Wolf Spiders

Unlike many other animals, spiders will only eat dead food as a last resort. For that reason, I recommend feeding a pet spider with live insects such as crickets, roaches, and grasshoppers. If you’re unsure about finding these in the wild, they are usually available from pet stores at a small cost.

If larger critters are not on the menu, a captive wolf spider will happily devour creatures that are readily available in your yard or garden such as ants, earwigs, worms, snails, and flies. Just try to keep them alive if possible!

A small to medium-sized wolf spider will need feeding every other day.

Are Wolf Spiders Good to Have in Your Home

Wolf spiders are considered to be a beneficial pest and your home is likely to provide them the opportunity to seek out insects, bugs, and other small spiders, as well as keep warm. So if you are looking for free pest control, having just one or two spiders in your home can be a good thing.

They are most likely to steer clear of human activity, tending to take refuge near houseplants, in closets, and behind furniture. This doesn’t stop people from reacting with fear when they see a wolf spider. After all, they’re large for a spider and they can be easily confused with tarantulas.

Wolf Spider Bites

Whilst their bite can be likened to the pain of a bee sting, for the majority of people, a wolf spider’s venom is unlikely to cause any lasting damage.

The most common symptoms are mild pain, swelling, a rash (limited to the bite spot), and itchiness. The pain is unlikely to last more than a few minutes, while the swelling can take a few days to pass as your body heals itself.

However, some people are allergic to certain compounds, including spider venom. There are also people who develop extreme reactions to insect bites.

Symptoms of an extreme reaction to a wolf spider bite include a spreading rash (rather than just at the bite site), serious and continuous pain, headaches, dizziness, cramping, sweating, a fever, and breathing problems. If any of these symptoms occur then it’s time to seek medical help straight away.

It was once believed that a wolf spider bite can cause necrosis – the dying of tissue. It’s been proven, though, that this is not an extreme reaction to the spider venom, but a result of bacteria infecting the wound and other necrosis-inducing mechanisms.

Preventing Wolf Spiders From Getting in Your Home

It is difficult to stop spiders from entering our homes since they are naturally attracted to the warmth of closed structures. Plus, their size and excellent climbing abilities make guarding all potential entry points an impossible task.

Sounds simple but the most effective way of preventing wolf spiders from entering your home is by sealing any cracks and crevices that they could use to get in. That means patching up cracks in windows, walls, baseboards, vents, doors, holes in screens, and tiny spaces between roof shingles.

Unfortunately, preventative measures don’t end there, because not only can they use any small opening as an entry, but they may also hitch a ride on items like firewood, plants, furniture, or boxes that have been stored outdoors and brought indoors.

In addition, they may enter our homes if we unintentionally bring them inside with us as they can easily hide in clothing without us knowing and be transported to another location altogether.

Wolf Spider Control

Aside from sealing all potential entry points, vacuuming your home regularly, and checking the things you carry inside are also effective methods of keeping wolf spiders outside.

Chemical control isn’t recommended by The University of California. You can only kill a spider with pesticides if you spray directly on the spider. Killing spiders with chemicals (or by simply crushing them) is only a short-term method of control and it won’t stop future spiders from invading your home.

Sticky traps are more effective as you don’t have to reapply them all the time, but they work best in combination with maintenance methods. Lastly, we have to mention dust used by professional pest control.

Professional pest controllers use a dust-like substance that contains silica gel and pyrethrins. This dries the spider out if it comes into contact with the dust substance. It has to be applied in and around the cracks and crevices that spiders use to get into your home. This method is not recommended if you have children or pets unless they can be kept away.

FAQ What Do Wolf Spiders Eat

Do Wolf Spiders Eat Brown Recluse?

If an opportunity for an ambush arises, a wolf spider will definitely kill and eat a brown recluse. This can happen in the wild, as well as in your home. However, brown recluses are not harmless and they can kill the wolf spider in defense.

Do Wolf Spiders Eat Dead Insects?

Wolf spiders will only eat dead insects as a last resort, preferring live prey such as crickets, mealworms, roaches, and grasshoppers.

What Do Wolf Spiders Like to Eat Final Thoughts

While wolf spiders are beneficial as they’ll keep your home insect-free, some people are particularly sensitive to their venom. If that’s the case with you, you should apply some of the control methods mentioned above.

Other than that, wolf spiders shouldn’t be eradicated from the home unless there’s a major infestation. They’re normally not dangerous for people and they only feed on insects and animals that you normally don’t want in your home.

If you have enjoyed this article, you may like to read about getting rid of Brown Recluse spiders.


The University of California – How to Manage Pests