[excerpt from a story by Kevin Ambrose of Chron.com]
You're enjoying dinner with your family when a spider the size of a half-dollar races across the floor and under the table. Even more terrifying - you wake in the middle of the night to find a large, hairy spider sharing your bed. Worse yet, it's resting on your neck.
The demon-like arachnids invading our homes this time of year are wolf spiders, but they are not as threatening as they appear. They are mostly harmless to humans but are feared because of their large size and their fierce namesake. They bite only when provoked but are not aggressive. They actually are quite shy.
Just like stink bugs and spider crickets, wolf spiders are accidental intruders in homes. As summer transitions to autumn, cooling temperatures prompt them to seek cover and find mates, which ultimately leads them to discover cracks and holes in homes. A common entry point for the spider is under doors.
They have eight eyes, eight hairy legs and two sharp fangs that inject a mild venom - nonlethal to humans, although the bite may cause swelling or a slight fever, comparable to a wasp sting.
Wolf spiders are the only spiders known to carry their spiderlings. A mother spider can have more than 100 babies clinging to her abdomen. If the mother is disturbed, however, the babies often flee in all directions.
Some nightmare Wolf Spider stories:
- "I woke up in the night and discovered a giant wolf spider was on my neck. I grabbed it with my hand and threw it across the room. It was a gut reaction. The spider was so heavy I heard it hit the wall with a thud! The next morning, I found it and vacuumed it up," wrote Elizabeth Cobb of Casanova, Virginia.
- "Back in my younger days, when I was at Goshen Boy Scout camp, I was lying on my cot inside the tent and I saw a big wolf spider directly above me on the tent wall. I swatted at it and the spider fell down on me with all its babies, which seemed like hundreds of them. I cannot remember how many times I was bitten but I know I was sick for three days from it," wrote Spencer Marker of Centreville, Virginia.
- "When I was a Girl Scout at Camp Potomac Woods, wolf spiders would gather inside our tent, near the top, and out of our reach. At night, we'd stare up at the spiders from our cots and try to convince ourselves they'd eat mosquitoes and bugs so it was actually good to have wolf spiders in the tent with us. When I returned home from camp, a giant wolf spider ran out of my suitcase. Apparently, one of them hitched a ride home with me," wrote Karen Hanscom of Arlington, Virginia.
- "At camp, we learned to hold the base of a flashlight on our forehead and look at the bottom of trees. Although this sounds like a trick - like catching snipes - the angle of the light to one's eyes reveals the spider's green eyes. The most amazing sight was that of a mother wolf spider with babies on her back. She looked completely jeweled with all of those little, glowing eyes! It's a 45-year-old memory," wrote Mary Ann Dalzell of Alexandria, Virginia.