Spider identification is important for both laypeople and scientists who study these animals. Spiders can be distinguished from other arachnids based on their body shape and certain physical traits. These characteristics are not always obvious, so a microscope may be necessary to identify some species of spiders.
Hobo spiders and wolf spiders belong to the same family, Lycosidae (family Araneae). However, these two species look quite different in size and coloration. Below are their differences in body, diet, behavior, habitat, life cycle and damages.
The body of a wolf spider is much larger than that of a hobo spider, which makes it easily recognizable. The wolf spider can measure up to 9 cm in length, and the hobo spider only reaches about 4 cm when fully grown. Wolf spiders are also very hairy, and the hairs on their body give them a grey appearance overall, with darker bands on the legs. On the other hand, the hobo spider has fewer hairs and is usually brown or black in overall coloration. Their eyes also differ in size and shape. The hobo spider has small and round eyes, while the wolf spider has larger and oval-shaped ones.
By looking at these two arachnids’ undersides, you can immediately tell whether they are wolf or hobo spiders. The wolf spider has a flat body with six and eight setae (hairs) on its legs. These setae are quite long, often longer than one millimeter. However, hobo spiders have a tapered abdomen with only four setae on the legs, while their bodies are slightly curved downwards. When they move, their legs resemble hooks due to their joints flex.
The diet of wolf spiders and hobo spiders also differs quite a lot. While wolf spiders are predators that eat a wide range of prey, including brown recluse wolf spiders, the hobo spider is more of a scavenger. This animal feeds on insects, other small arthropods, and even small vertebrates. Because they are scavengers, they usually remain in areas where food is abundant.
Wolf spiders usually prey on larger insects such as cockroaches, but they will also kill aphids and other soft-bodied insects. These spiders do not prefer prey species and will eat anything that does not threaten them. However, these spiders are known to be more cannibalistic than most other wolf spiders in the United States and Canada. Their diet includes insects, lizards, frogs and even small mammals such as mice and voles.
Hobo spiders are more likely to prey on small vertebrates than wolf spiders are: they will kill baby mice or baby birds if they can find them.
Wolf spiders have the habit of burying their prey in the ground before eating it. It is a way to protect against other predators, who will not be able to dig through all of their burrows, so they have a better chance of finding prey. Hobo spiders do not bury their prey, as they would risk predation from other animals or bacteria from decomposing flesh on the ground.
The behaviors of wolf spiders and hobo spiders also differ quite a lot. For example, wolf spiders hide under rocks and logs on warm days while hunting. On the other hand, hobo spiders prefer to stay in high locations in the open, like bushes or trees.
Hobo spiders are good at jumping or climbing very well, which means they can move quickly from tree to tree. It is a very useful trait for this kind of spider as it helps them access new areas where food might be found. Wolf spiders can also jump, but they rarely climb trees. Their fangs, in particular, are not as advanced as those of the hobo spider. Wolf spiders have one fang, while hobo spiders have two. The wolf spider’s fangs are more curved and sharp, whereas the hobo spider’s teeth are straighter and not sharp-edged.
The habitats of spider species also differ from one another. Wolf spiders can be found in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, and open areas with little vegetation. They often live near the ground in leaf litter where they can find their prey. Hobo spiders also live in grasslands, but they prefer wooded areas or crevices on tree trunks or leaves.
The web of hobo spiders is quite different from that of wolf spiders. The hobo spiders weave a tangled web that is difficult to detect and break. The web contains a tangle of silk threads so that the spider can get caught easily. On the other hand, Wolf spiders weave orb-shaped webs with very thick strands. These strands are so strong that they act as nets to stop flying insects before entering the spider’s web.
The life cycles of wolf spiders and hobo spiders are quite different. wolf spider females lay eggs (about 18-80) from June to early July. The eggs are usually laid in a sac made out of leaves, where they will remain until they hatch in September or October. The young wolf spiders (or spiderlings) will emerge from the sac and look for prey, where they will grow larger before entering adulthood.
The hobo spider lives for a shorter period than the wolf spider, but it is still a span longer than most other species of spiders. Their life cycles can vary substantially depending on the species. The hobo spider usually makes its web in February or March and spins multiple egg sacs inside its web, surrounding itself with silk threads to protect herself from predators.
The damages caused by wolf spiders and hobo spiders can vary according to the species and the circumstances. Wolf spiders are known to eat any insect or small invertebrate, and even small vertebrates when they can catch them. They do not usually cause damage to homes, but they are venomous and will bite if not handled with care or handled quickly afterward.
The hobo spider is very similar in terms of looks regarding people’s perception of the harm they can inflict. These spiders have been reported to cause skin necrosis, rashes, or ulcerations. However, their venom is much less potent than that of wolf spiders, which means they cannot effectively bite humans.
Another reason hobo spiders are not too harmful to humans is that they do not like living close to humans. The human climate does not match the conditions that hobo spiders need to thrive: they need moderate temperatures in a humid environment and prefer to live alone rather than with others. If a hobo spider is kept at a warmer temperature, it will bite and cause skin irritation, which can be uncomfortable but not lethal.