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shore spider

shore spider (Pardosa milvina)
Photo © Hank Guarisco

Features and Behaviors

Like all wolf spiders, the shore spider has four, large eyes in a trapezoid shape on the top of the carapace. The two median eyes in this group of four are the largest and face forward. The two smaller eyes in this group of four are set behind the two central eyes, facing to the side or backwards. In front of these four eyes is a row of four, smaller eyes. The female is about 0.20 to 0.26 inch total body length. The male is about 0.16 to 0.19 inch total body length. The body color is variable but usually gray or brown. There is a light band on the cephalothorax that shows a constriction behind the head. The abdomen has a light mark followed by a series of light dots in pairs. The legs have banded coloration. The male has black around the eyes and on the palps. Spines on the hind legs are almost perpendicular to the leg.

This species is found in moist areas on the ground, including swamps, marshes, pastures and along ponds and streams, as well as in woodlands, lawns and farm fields. Males are active from February through August. Females are active from February through November. Wolf spiders have good vision. They perform courtship rituals like waving the legs or palps with making sounds created by vibrating body parts against each other or a surface or object they are near. Wolf spiders generally do not build a web but use a dragline of silk for communication. The female builds an egg sac and attaches it to her spinnerets. She carries it with her as she hunts and may move into or out of sunlight to help control the temperature of the developing eggs. After the eggs hatch, the young climb onto her abdomen, and she carries them for a week or two while they complete their development. Wolf spiders hunt by waiting for prey to appear, then rushing out to capture it. If no prey appears for a while, the spider may move to a new location. Small prey items are bitten immediately. Larger prey may be enclosed in a basket made by the spider’s legs and then bitten. The diet consists mainly of insects and other, smaller wolf spiders.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Lycosidae

Illinois Status: common, native