State spider. South Carolina became the first state to designate an official spider when the General Assembly chose the Carolina wolf spider in legislation approved by Governor Jim Hodges on July 21, 2000. The accepted scientific name was formerly Lycosa carolinensis, but it is now Hogna carolinensis. Skyler B. Hutto, a third-grade student at Sheridan Elementary School in Orangeburg, originally suggested to the General Assembly that the spider be so honored.
The Carolina wolf spider is found throughout the continental United States and is most common in the South from Virginia to Texas. It is the largest American wolf spider. The adult male can attain nearly an inch in body length, while the female can be an inch or more. Instead of catching prey in webs, wolf spiders are ground hunters that pounce on insects, kill with venomous bites, then consume their victims. Wolves are colored in mottled browns and grays that provide camouflage among leaves on the forest floor.
The state spider is normally shy of humans but may bite if touched or threatened. While not fatal, its bite can be painful, like a bee sting. The female may dig a burrow five to eight inches deep, and spend some time there. A good mother, she carries her egg sac (a pea-sized silk ball) around in her fangs until the eggs hatch. She then carries her newly hatched spiderlings on her back for a time. When the egg yolk on which the young live is depleted, they begin eyeing each other as prey, then disperse to live on their own.
Gertsch, Willis J. American Spiders. 2d ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979.
Langley, Lynne. “State Spider a Keen Hunter and Dutiful Parent.” Charleston Post and Courier, July 16, 2000, p. F10.