Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Spider Identification


QUESTION: I appreciate any answers you can give.  I live in Fresno, CA. We have 2/3 of an acre, with lots of trees and a creek that runs behind our house.  I have found one black-widow in our house before.  However, the spider in the image I have attached was found in my garage today.  My little brother has made my garage a semi-apartment for himself.  This spider was walking across his carpet this morning.  In the image is a 50 cent piece laying next to the spider.

If you could identify it.  I understand that from an image it is hard to identify, especially coloring.  In spite of that, I hope you will be able to tell me some information about it.  For example, that was a very old spider, and that is rare to have them that large, lol.  Unlike yourself, an entomologist, with an obviously love of spiders, I cannot say the same for myself! :)

I am just concerned that there may be more hiding, and would like a heads-up, so to speak, about expecting this big guy's relatives to come out and play.

ANSWER: Hi, Michelle:

The spider appears to be a wolf spider, family Lycosidae, but the only way to be totally certain is to see the eye arrangement.  Still, there are few other spiders in your area that resemble wolf spiders.  Here's more about wolf spiders:


There are no wolf spiders known to be dangerously venomous to the average, healthy human.  It is also almost impossible to completely exclude spiders and other arthropods from entering your garage, home.  Just exercise care and don't put your hands or feet in places where you can't see (this includes footwear that has been in the garage or outdoors).

Nice of you to be looking out for both your family and spiders :-)


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thank you very much for your fast and informative response.  It is very much appreciated.

You mentioned that there are a few other species that resemble wolf spiders in my region.  Could you please give me the names of those?

Also, my brother trapped it in a glass jar.  Will he survive if we feed it? If so, what do I feed it?  To the contrary, where should I strategically relocate him, far, far from my home?  I don't want to relocate him to a place that he will die, but to a place where he can relocate his home.



Well, most people have a hard time telling spiders apart, so it would be an exercise in futility to list all the species similar to wolf spiders.  Plus, male spiders of virtually *every* species, even those normally confined to webs, wander in search of mates and can therefore show up indoors when they are actually "outdoor" spiders.

I highly recommend the Field Guide to Spiders of California and the Pacific Coast States , by R.J. Adams (UC Press, 2014, 303 pp.).  In my opinion it is the best spider guide out there.

As for the wolf spider, if you keep it in captivity, don't worry too much about air holes.  A little bit of humidity is actually a good thing.  Also, provide a part of a cotton ball, soaked in water, as spiders don't get water from the prey they kill.  Feed it small crickets such as you could purchase at a pet store.  It is not imperative that a spider eat regularly.  They are built to endure long periods without food.  I feed my own spiders about every other week.

Release it where you see fit, just make sure the habitat at least remotely approaches whatever the natural landscape is around your home (i.e. don't release a spider from a forest onto a sand dune).

Hope this advice helps.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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