More than 500 species of spiders are found in Wisconsin. However, the state is not home for the world biggest spiders, which can reach 4 inches in body length. Most spiders native to Wisconsin measure less than 1 inch, but a few species can have bodies as big as 1.5 inches. Wisconsin's largest species include members of the family Lycosidae, known as wolf spiders, as well as nursery web spiders, garden spiders and funnel web spiders.
Nursery Web Spiders
Members of the family Pisauridae, nursery web spiders found in Wisconsin, include the species Dolomedes tenebrosus and Pisaurina mira. Also called fishing spiders, these spiders can reach up to 1 inch in body size, with females bigger than males. They are active hunters, capturing insects on the ground instead of waiting for them on the web. Nursery web spiders and wolf spiders are similar, and get mistaken for one another sometimes.
More than 40 species of wolf spiders are found in Wisconsin, including members of the genera Pardosa, Pirata and Arctosa. The largest wolf spiders are the members of the genus Hogna, with five species found in Wisconsin. Hogna carolinensis is the biggest of them, with females reaching up to 1 1/2 inches in body size. Wolf spiders are hunters, and sometimes dig burrows on the ground to wait for insects and other prey.
Ground spiders are the members of the family Gnaphosidae, with 29 species in Wisconsin and more than 2,000 around the world. Female spiders of the genus Drassodes can reach a body length of about 1 inch. These spiders are brown to tan, and are nocturnal hunters. They have the habit of weaving a sac on the ground or under leaves, where they hide during the day.
Funnel Weaver Spiders
Seven species of funnel weaver spiders, part of the family Agelenidae, are found in Wisconsin. The barn funnel weaver (Tegenaria domestica) is rarely bigger than 1 inch, and females of the funnel-web grass spider (Agelenopsis naevia) can reach 1 inch in body size. These spiders live on the ground, where they build tubular funnel webs to shelter.