Other Names: Lycosa obscuroides, similar to Tasmanicosa Sp.
Family: Lycosidae (Wolf Spiders). 130 known species in Australia, most in the genus Lycosa. Many other Australian species of wolf spiders are similar in appearance.
Size: Body 15-18 mm
Distribution: Species of wolf spiders are found in a very wide range of habitats, from deserts to rainforests.
Habitat: Wolf spiders are ground dwellers and many species make burrows. They have extremely good vision and can see polarised light, which gives them exceptional skill at navigating.
References: Find-A-Spider Guide. Brunet. Whyte and Anderson.
Wolf spiders get their name from their hunting style of chasing and running down their prey, like a wolf or dog would.
A closely related wolf spider in the genus Lycosa, Lycosa tarantula, is the species that was originally called the tarantula. It was named after the city of Taranto in Italy, where it is found. In one of those strange quirks of science, the spiders now known as tarantulas are in a completely different family (Theraphosidae).
There was once a traditional belief that if one of these "tarantula wolf spiders" bit you, it would lead to a hysterical condition known as "Tarantism" for which the only cure was to dance a special dance called the tarantella. This is now understood to be completely false and these spiders are not regarded as dangerous to humans.
Danger: Australian wolf spiders are not especially dangerous, though they can cause transient pain and sickness. At least one source says they can be deadly to smaller animals such as cats and dogs. According to Whyte and Anderson, "human bites have been recorded with various unpleasant but usually short-lived results, the worst being acute pain for 10 minutes to an hour, local swelling, redness and itchiness. Dizziness, rapid pulse and nausea have been reported."
Note that dead spiders usually fade in colour, so nearly all the spiders will look blacker or darker in colour in real life than they do in the photos of dead spiders from the museum.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 4196 x 2832.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 4120 x 2644.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 2876 x 1432.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3992 x 2692.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney.
Photo by Robert Kraft. Face of a large wolf spider, species and country unknown. High Resolution 1280 x 1050.
Spiders: A Wild Australia Guide, by Patrick Honan.
96 pages. This is a smaller spider guide showing the most well known spiders and then a few more.
From the publisher, "Australia is home to more than 2000 known species of spiders - and it is estimated that four times that number actually exist in this country waiting to be discovered! Within the ranks of Australian spiders we find some of the most uniquely interesting and skilled creatures of the animal world, along with a few potentially-deadly species and even more harmless individuals with fearsome reputations. Love them or loathe them, spiders are a part of everyday life, and this Steve Parish WILD AUSTRALIA GUIDE provides an insight into the lives of some of these often-reclusive visitors to our gardens, homes and wild places. From how to identify them and where they live, to their unique skills and behaviours, this guide lets you get up close to some of the most common Australian spiders. Who knows? You may even find some of these fascinating creatures living right under your nose."
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