ground wolf spider

(Trochosa terricola)

Conservation Status
ground wolf spider
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Ground wolf spider is a medium-sized, thick-bodied, short-legged, wolf spider. It occurs in temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere, mostly in Europe and North America. It is common in Minnesota. It is found in deciduous woodlands and shady fields, mostly at woodland edges, on the ground in leaf litter and under logs and stones.

Females are 516 to ½ (8.2 to 11.8 mm) in length and have a to 1316 (15 to 30 mm) legspan. Males are smaller, ¼ to (6.7 to 9.6 mm) in length.

The front part of the body (cephalothorax) is longer than wide. The upper side (carapace) of the cephalothorax is low, has a depression in the middle (fovea). It is relatively flat when viewed from the side, about the same height from the second (posterior) row of eyes to the rear. It is dark orangish-brown with a broad pale stripe in the middle and on each side a pale submarginal band. Within the median band there is a pair of short, dark, longitudinal streaks extending from behind the posterior row of eyes to the fovea. The presence of these stripes distinguishes this wolf spider as belonging to the genus Trochosa.

There are eight eyes in two rows of four each. The front (anterior) row has four small eyes and is straight or slightly curved forward. The rear (posterior) row has two very large posterior median eyes (PME) and two large posterior lateral eyes (PLE). The PLEs are set behind the PMEs, and some authors describe this arrangement as three rows of eyes. The rear row is about equal in width to the middle row. The PMEs are closer to the PLEs than to each other. The PMEs and PLEs have a layer of reflective tissue internally. This allows the spider to see in relative darkness. It also causes their eyes to shine when hit by the beam of a flashlight. The basal segment of the jaws (chelicerae) is large and powerful. The forward-facing margin has three teeth, the rear-facing margin has two or three teeth.

The abdomen is egg-shaped and is covered with short hairs. It is yellowish-orange at the base with extensive dark mottling. On the front half there is a pale oval mark (cardiac mark) in the middle that is partially outlined with dark brown.

The legs are short, stout, spiny, and sparsely hairy. They are pale yellowish-brown and mottled with dark brown but are not banded. The ends of the fifth segment (tibia), sixth segment (metatarsus), and seventh segment (tarsus) are brown.




Female Body Length: 516 to ½ (8.2 to 11.8 mm)

Male Body Length: ¼ to (6.7 to 9.6 mm)

Legspan: to 1316 (15 to 30 mm)






Similar Species


Deciduous woodlands and shady fields, mostly at woodland edges, on the ground in leaf litter and under logs and stones




March to November






Life Cycle


Mating takes place in the spring. Adults mature in the fall.






Distribution Map



24, 29, 30, 82.

Nearctic species of the wolf spider genus Trochosa (Araneae: Lycosidae) Allen Brady. 1980. Psyche, Cambridge 86:167-212.





Common in Minnesota

  Class Arachnida (arachnids)  


Araneae (spiders)  


Araneomorphae (typical spiders)  
  Infraorder Entelegynae (entelegyne spiders)  


Lycosoidea (wolf spiders and allies)  


Lycosidae (wolf spiders)  







Lycosa orophila

Lycosa pratensis

Lycosa trabilis


Common Names


common litter wolf spider

ground wolf spider

turf wolf spider










The hard, upper (dorsal), shell-like covering (exoskeleton) of the body or at least the thorax of many arthropods and of turtles and tortoises. On crustaceans, it covers the cephalothorax. On spiders, the top of the cephalothorax made from a series of fused sclerites.


Cardiac mark

An oval dark mark on the front half of the abdomen of some spiders, beneath which lies the heart.



The front part of the body of various arthropods, composed of the head region and the thoracic area fused together. Eyes, legs, and antennae are attached to this part.



The pair of stout mouthparts, corresponding to jaws, in arachnids and other arthropods in the subphylum Chelicerata.



On spiders, a depression in the middle of the carapace, which is the internal attachment point for the stomach muscles.



The sixth segment of a spider leg.



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.





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Alfredo Colon

    ground wolf spider   ground wolf spider  
    ground wolf spider      





Trochosa terricola
Lloyd Davies
  Trochosa terricola  

Trochosa terricola




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Wolf Spider (Lycosidae: Trochosa terricola)
Carl Barrentine

May 14, 2010

Photographed at Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (14 May 2010).

  Wolf Spider (Lycosidae: Trochosa terricola) on Pavement
Carl Barrentine

Apr 18, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (17 April 2010).

  Trochosa terricola male
Stawonogi Polski

Feb 19, 2020

  Wolf Spider (Lycosidae: Trochosa terricola) Close-up
Carl Barrentine

Sep 13, 2011

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (13 September 2011). Thank you to Lynette Schimming ( for confirming the genus of this specimen, and to 'Epic Tazzleman' for recommending the species.




Visitor Sightings

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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

ground wolf spider  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

ground wolf spider  






Created: 5/27/2022

Last Updated:

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