When you are afraid of something, the best way to tackle your fear is gain as much information as you can about the object of your fear – knowledge is power! Being afraid of spiders climbing into your bed can be a rational fear, especially when it comes to wolf spiders which can deliver a nasty bite.
Wolf spiders are a large, diverse group of spiders which are very adaptable and versatile, and can be found in many locations around the world. They are pouncing predators which means they will pursue and pounce on prey, or hide and wait for prey before pouncing at high speeds from the shadows.
However, this means they mostly hunt on the ground and are very unlikely to climb up high into a bed. In addition, like many small creatures, wolf spiders are afraid of humans and will try to avoid contact with a human as much as possible.
Today, we aim to equip you with facts and common-sense knowledge about wolf spiders. We hope to disband your fear, grow your understanding, and introduce you to the incredible world of wolf spiders. But if you’d still prefer not wake up face to face with a spider, we also include a guide on how to prevent spiders from crawling into your bed. So, without further ado, let’s learn a little more about wolf spider ecology…
What Are Wolf Spiders?
Most wolf spider species are fairly large and dark in color. Some species have markings aimed at camouflaging them against their environment, protecting them from predation and hiding them from potential prey. They mark themselves as different from ‘standard’ spiders in that they do not hunt for prey with a web. Instead, they hunt their prey down, relying on their incredible eyesight and athletic abilities. See a stunning video from National Geographic here.
Speaking of their eyesight, they have an advanced, complex arrangement of 8 eyes, giving them elite night vision. This makes them a specialised night-time predator, you can even see their eyes shining brightly in the dark much like the eyes of a cat!
Their speed in chasing down prey gives them their common name ‘wolf’. While some species specialise in pursuit, others employ the sit-and-wait technique, finding a good spot to hide in and simply waiting for a prey item to approach. Their diet mainly consists of insects and other spiders.
Females tend to be larger than males. The smallest species is only 6.4 millimeters long! While the largest can be up to 3 centimeters.
Wolf spiders inhabit a great range of habitats from grasslands to wetlands, mountains, and deserts. They will bite if they feel threatened or to protect themselves against predators. They are, in fact, a key food sources for larger animals like lizards, birds, and some species of rodents. Although their bite is deadly for their insect victims, and can be extremely effective against predators, it is very unlikely to be dangerous for humans unless you are allergic to insect bites. Usually, a wolf spider bite will only result in redness and a little swelling in a human.
Wolf Spider Behavior
The majority of wolf spider species are ground predators, stalking prey amongst the leaf litter, low-growing vegetation, and even underground. Some species will either excavate their own underground tunnels or utilise the tunnels of other animals in their pursuit for prey. Some species are strongly territorial while others appear to wander around at random. Territorial species may burrow underneath a rock or log and use this as their regular den.
Another tactic they possess in their defense against predators is their acute sensitivity to vibrations – this both helps them locate smaller prey and avoid larger predators. This is why they will run away when they sense the vibrations coming from a giant human presence.
One amazing fact about wolf spiders is associated with the way in which they raise their young. Mating begins with the male spider attempting to attract females by effectively ‘drumming’ their palps (mouthparts) on leaves. After mating, females produce an egg sac which she attaches to her back (specifically to her spinnerets), carrying round her young as she goes about her daily activities – much like the way in which we carry babies around in a sling!
Once old enough, the baby spiders will hatch, continue to hitch a lift on their mother’s back for a while, and hop off once they are big enough to hunt for themselves. Some species carry round hundreds of offspring in one go – a real workout! Find a little more detailed information about wolf spiders here.
Now we know more about wolf spiders, their habits and feeding behaviour, we are fully equipped to answer the question of whether or not they will climb into a bed.
Do Wolf Spiders Climb Into Beds?
Let’s get straight to it – wolf spiders are very unlikely to climb into beds. As we have already learned, they are almost always ground predators and will not bother to climb up higher in most cases – why waste energy when you don’t have to?
Their biggest motivation for moving around is either in the pursuit of insect prey, or to avoid predators. When they sense the vibrations coming from something as large as a human, they will want to run away and hide from the threat. They will usually choose small, dark places, so a more valid fear might actually be that they would crawl into shoes or clothes left on the floor – if you know wolf spiders are in your area and you have seen one in your house, you might want to check you shoes, clothes, and anything left lying around on the floor that a wolf spider could crawl into.
Although bites from wolf spiders are rare and will not happen unless they are provoked, it is still a smart idea not to stick your foot into your sneaker and into the face of a wolf spider. They might see this as provocation! Shake your shoe out first, just in case.
One factor that may increase the likelihood of finding a wolf spider in your bed is if you sleep on a mattress directly on the floor, or on a very low bed. Alternatively, if you have insects in your bed regularly, wolf spiders will come to seek them out. In this case, get those insects out of your bed! That is an entirely different problem that we will not be discussing here for today.
So, knowledge is power, and knowing about the habits of a wolf spider can greatly help your fear of waking up to one. It can even encourage you to look at spiders in a different way, not as something to be frightened of, but something to be respected and interested in.
Maybe you like spiders now, but you’d still rather not have them as bed companions? Don’t worry! There are some simple steps you can take to prevent wolf spiders, or indeed any spiders from climbing into your bed.
How To Prevent Spiders From Climbing Into Your Bed
If you’re still on edge about finding a spider in your bed, there are some easy ways you can discourage them from getting cosy with you.
1. Maintain A Good Cleaning Regime
Insects are more likely to live in your home if you leave a lot of objects lying around on the floor, clean very rarely, leave food out, or have damp problems. With insects come spiders! Maintaining a thorough and regular cleaning regime from dusting and vacuuming through to mopping the floors and washing clothes is a vital step in keeping your house (and therefore bed!) spider free.
It may be worthwhile considering a deep clean a couple of times a year, getting into all those corners that are easily missed during a regular house clean.
Clean your sheets regularly and do not leave clothes and shoes lying on your bedroom floor. Remove the number of areas a wolf spider might like to hide out in – small, dark spaces – think like a spider. Simple!
2. Do Not Eat In Bed
It may be tempting to prepare a cost breakfast in bed on the weekends, or enjoy a snack in bed in the evenings. This is a big no when it comes to keeping insects, and therefore spiders, away from your bed. If you really have to eat in bed, if it’s one of your number 1 hobbies in life, then eat on a tray and be careful not to spill food on the bed or surrounding floor.
3. Repel Spiders With Peppermint Oil Or Vinegar
Some people swear by keeping spiders at bay using peppermint oil or vinegar. Both these solutions are highly preferable compared to using harsh chemicals and insecticides which are bad for people, pets, and the environment. It can also be useful to realise that insects and spiders are a key element of the ecosystem and that, by removing them, you are reducing the health of the ecosystem as a whole…just something to keep in mind!
You can mix peppermint oil with water and use a spray bottle to distribute it around your bed. It’s probably a good idea to say here that you should consider the type of flooring you have when using this approach. Carpets and rugs will absorb the smell which is fine if you love peppermint. Wooden flooring can tolerate some wetness but should not be soaked. Laminate or other types of synthetic flooring may become slippery after applying water and oil, but can be cleaned easily.
Vinegar should also be diluted in water. It can be more effective in keeping those spiders at bay due to its strong acidity, but it also smells super strong! Perhaps it’s best to use vinegar only when you’re desperate, as it may affect your sleep and give your room a really pungent stench. The smell can stick around for a long time again depending on your type of flooring.
4. Elevate Your Bed
If you sleep just on a mattress, or on a very low bed, bed-risers can be beneficial in lifting your bed from the floor. Having space under your bed makes it more unlikely any spiders will bother to climb into the bed. In addition, moving your headboard out from the wall and leaving a nice gap can be a good idea.
5. Remove Firewood And Plant Materials
Any wood such as firewood or building materials you have lying around, inside or right outside your house could be an ideal place for wolf spiders to hide out. So try to move these away from the house. Any plants like vines and shrubs that are growing right next to or on the house should be pruned back and away from windows and doors. Fitting some window and door screens is another great option for discouraging all things from entering your house, as well as door sweeps where you have large gaps beneath the doors.
What To Do If A Wolf Spider Climbs Into Your Bed
Ok, so you’ve taken all these measures, you’ve educated yourself in the ways of the wolf spider, maybe you even like them now, who knows. But one day you come face to face with a wolf spider standing right in your bed. What should you do?
Don’t squish it! 1. This is unnecessary and cruel; 2. If it is female it may be carrying babies so a) you’ll be destroying many lives in one go and b) it could activate the babies and your bed will become a wolf spider baby haven, yikes; 3. Stains.
The best way to go about things is to calmly get up, fetch a glass and a piece of card or paper, and carefully remove the spider from your bed in a calm and controlled manner. You can safely deposit it outside and it will be very unlikely to come back. Do not panic, and don’t make it feel threatened or you may receive a painful (but not deadly!) bite.
Wolf Spiders Are Wonderful!
So, it is incredibly unlikely that a wolf spider would crawl into your bed. They are ground hunters and are much more likely to run away and hide from any human they sense the vibrations of.
The best way to prevent a bed-time encounter with a wolf spider is through prevention – keep your house and bedroom nice and tidy, and raise your bed from the floor.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about this astonishing group of spiders, and if you have not learnt to love them then at least you may be able to tolerate them now.