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Wolf spider

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Tasmanicosa godeffroyi
formerly Lycosa godeffroyi (B. Main, 1964)
Body length:
female: 27 mm
male: 25 mm
In an open burrow that descends 10-15 cm then runs parallel with the surface for another 15 cm. The entrance is circular and is open with no door
May bite if handled; venom is mildly toxic
Tasmanicosa godeffroyi
Click to enlarge
The male
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Burrow entrance

The previous name for this species was Lycosa godeffroyi but the World Spider Catalog now shows it as Tasmanicosa godeffroyi because of the acceptance of the contents of the following paper: Framenau VW and Baehr BC (2016) "Revision of the Australian Union-Jack wolf spiders, genus Tasmanicosa (Araneae, Lycosidae, Lycosinae)", Zootaxa 4213, 1-82. It is perhaps the best known and most often noticed of the Australian wolf spiders that have a 'Union Jack' pattern of stripes on the top of the cephalothorax but it is easily distinguished by the fact that the underside of its abdomen is entirely black. This is a major difference between it and the other common and closely related species, Tasmanicosa leuckartii, which is found in the same parts of Australia and has a quite similar set of markings on its upper surfaces but only an edge of black colour on its ventral abdomen.

Most wolf spider species have distinctive patterns of dark markings on their upper body surfaces and a pair of large eyes that give them good forwards vision. Tasmanicosa godeffroyi is probably the most common Tasmanicosa species found in most coastal areas of Australia. Like other wolf spiders it tends to wait just inside the entrance of the burrow and can often be seen there (especially at night when the eyes reflect the light of a torch) or can be attracted to the surface by a grass stalk inserted into the burrow entrance.

It is claimed that some lycosid species build a door to close off the burrow. This is not the case for Tasmanicosa godeffroyi, but a thin film of web is often placed across the entrance after the spider has mated.

Wolf spiders are notable vagrants and can sometimes be found outside the burrow foraging for insects. Males often enter low-set houses in spring searching for a mate. Females produce a white or pale blue spherical egg sac and this may be carried around attached to the spinnerets. When the spiderlings hatch out they crawl onto the female's upper surfaces, almost completely covering them. It is presumed this serves as an efficient means of dispersing the young spiders.

Known Range: A very common ground-dwelling spider found from about Rockhampton down through all of South Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, with another pocket in the South-west corner of WA.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Tasmanicosa leuckartii and some other lycosid species.

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Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 8 January 2022.