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rabid wolf spider

rabid wolf spider (Rabidosa rabida) [female]
Photo © Hank Guarisco

Features and Behaviors

Like all wolf spiders, the rabid wolf 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. Females range from 0.63 to 0.83 inch in total body length. Males are about 0.43 to 0.47 inch in total body length. The body color is generally light brown. The cephalothorax has a pattern of alternating longitudinal light and dark stripes. The dorsal side of the abdomen has a light stripe in the middle and paired, light spots toward the back. The male’s front legs are black.

This species is found in prairies, woodlands, pastures and other open areas where it is common in tall grasses. It hunts at night and in the day. Adults are active June through October. Females with egg sacs are present from July through October. This species sometimes wraps its prey in silk. 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