These athletic spiders don’t spin webs to catch their prey; instead, they run it down! They have long legs and are usually gray, brown, black or tan with dark brown or black body markings (especially stripes). Those in the Kansas City area range in body size (legs not included) from less than 1/4 to 1.38 inches. They live mostly solitary and hunt alone. Some are opportunistic hunters pouncing upon prey as they find it or even chasing it over short distances. Some will wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of a burrow. They may wander from place to place, and are therefore more likely to be the ones attracted into human habitation when the weather starts to turn colder in autumn. While all wolf spiders may bite, only the larger ones may be able to inject enough venom to necessitate medical attention. Even then, such bites are not likely to be life threatening to the average healthy person..
Wolf spiders have eight eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consists of four small eyes, the middle row has two very large eyes and the top row has two medium-sized eyes. They depend on their excellent eyesight to hunt. They also possess an acute sense of touch.
Flashing a beam of light over the spider at night will produce “eyeshine”. The light from the flashlight has been reflected from the spider's eyes directly back toward its source, producing a "glow" that is easily noticed.
Wolf spiders are unique in the way that they carry their eggs. The egg sac, a round silken globe, is attached to the spinnerets at the end of the abdomen, allowing the spider to carry her unborn young with her. The abdomen must be held in a raised position to keep the egg case from dragging on the ground; however despite this handicap they are still capable of hunting. Another aspect unique to wolf spiders is their method of infant care. Immediately after the spiderlings emerge from their protective silken case, they clamber up their mother's legs and crowd onto her abdomen.
Because they depend on camouflage for protection, they do not have the flashy appearance of some other kinds of spiders. In general their coloration is appropriate to their favorite habitat.