Two-coloured wolf spider (Hoggicosa bicolor)

Also known as: desert wolf spider, wolf spider
Synonyms: Allocosa bicolor, Lycosa bicolor
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassArachnida
OrderAraneae
FamilyLycosidae
GenusHoggicosa (1)
SizeMale length: 1 - 2 cm (2) 
Female length: 2.15 - 2.50 cm (2) 
Top facts

The two-coloured wolf spider is not yet classified on the IUCN Red List. 

A distinctive difference in colour is notable between adult males and females of the two-coloured wolf spider (Hoggicosa bicolor), which is a large and sturdy species (3). The females and juveniles of this species are some of the most vividly coloured of all the wolf spiders (4), and this makes them almost instantly recognisable from other species (3).

The adult male two-coloured wolf spider has a brown cephalothorax that has black and white bristles, and a grey abdomen with grey and black bristles and faint lines on the sides. Its mouthparts are dark brown and covered in white hairs, and its legs are also brown. The underside of the male two-coloured wolf spider is completely black and coated with black bristles (3).

The more colourful adult female two-coloured wolf spider has a reddish-brown cephalothorax that is dark brown on the underside and covered all over with fine white bristles. Its abdomen is black, covered with black bristles, and has a prominent, lance-shaped, cream-coloured stripe on the upperside, running down the centre towards its posterior. The size of this stripe varies among individuals, ranging from a small streak at its anterior end to a large, thick band that reaches almost to its spinnerets and covers most of the upper surface of the abdomen. The female two-coloured wolf spider’s mouthparts are dark brown, and the upper leg and first part of the knee joint of each leg is black to dark brown, compared to the remainder of the leg which is cream. Juvenile two-coloured wolf spiders are similar in appearance to the females (3).

The two-coloured wolf spider has an eye arrangement that is unique to wolf spiders. A row of four small, irregular-sized eyes are present on the front of its head, and the remaining eyes four are located on the top of the cephalothorax, in a square arrangement near the front (2) (4). 

The two-coloured wolf spider is endemic to Australia, and is found in Northern Territory, Queensland, South and Western Australia (5).

The two-coloured wolf spider is common in arid habitats (2) (4), and has been recorded in environments with sandy plains, claypans, red sand and stony soil. It is also present in woodland, scrubland and Spinifex habitats (3). 

An opportunistic feeder, the two-coloured wolf spider feeds on arthropods such as insects and other spiders (2), rarely leaving its burrow in the ground to do so (4). In general, wolf spiders of the Lyconisae family excavate their own burrows, but some species have been observed stealing burrows from others (4). As in all wolf spiders, the two-coloured wolf spider is nocturnal (2) (4), remaining inside the burrow during the day time when temperatures are high. At night, wolf spiders wait for passing prey at the entrance of the burrow. Female wolf spiders do not tend to leave the burrow, and males generally only do so during the search for a female. Although most wolf spider burrows are left open at the entrance, except in certain conditions where they may be closed with a layer of silk or substrate, some species of the Hoggicosa genus are atypical in blocking the entrance to their burrows with pebbles or other objects (4). The two-coloured wolf spider has been discovered in burrows both with and without ‘doors’ (3).

Wolf spiders share another characteristic behaviour in their method of brood care. As in other wolf spiders, following mating the female two-coloured wolf spider constructs a round egg sac out of silk, laying the eggs inside. It then attaches the sac to its spinnerets which allows the eggs to be transported wherever the female goes. Following hatching, the spiderlings do not disperse, instead remaining attached to the female’s abdomen for a further two to four weeks, held on by specialised hairs (2) (4).

All wolf spiders are capable of efficient dispersal by ‘ballooning’, which means they have the ability to scatter by wind, attached to a strand of silk (3) (4). 

Although there are no known threats to the two-coloured wolf spider specifically, there are fears that spiders in general may start to appear and breed earlier in the year, and may start to colonise areas that were previously of unsuitable temperature. It seems, however, that in some areas the opposite has been the case, and that spiders are currently appearing later in the year due to unpredictable weather conditions such as temperature and rainfall (2). 

There are no known conservation measures in place for the two-coloured wolf spider at present.

Find out more about the two-coloured wolf spider:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (April, 2013)
    http://www.itis.gov/
  2. ClimateWatch - Two coloured or desert wolf spider (April, 2013)
    http://www.climatewatch.org.au/species/spiders/two-coloured-or-desert-wolf-spider
  3. Langlands, P. and Framenau, V. (2010) Systematic revision of Hoggicosa Roewer, 1960, the Australian ‘bicolor’ group of wolf spiders (Aranae: Lycosidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 158: 83-123.
  4. Framenau, V. (2009) Dances with wolves - Australian wolf spiders. Western Wildlife, 13(3): 1, 4-5. Available at:
    http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/search.html?searchword=Western%20wildlife&searchphrase=all
  5. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (2012) Hoggicosa bicolor. In: Australian Faunal Directory. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra. Available at:
    http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/fauna/afd/taxa/Hoggicosa%20bicolor