Dune Wolf Spider

Fast Facts

Latin name: Xerolycosa miniata

Notable feature: Almost exclusively a coastal species in Britain, this wolf spider has excellent camouflage with its speckled and sandy appearance.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Where in the UK: Widespread on the coast of Britain as far north as eastern central Scotland but is absent from some apparently suitable areas. Along the coast it can often be found in association with areas of sand adjacent to clumps of Restharrow.

Dune Wolf-spider (Xerolycosa miniata) © Steven Falk


The Dune Wolf Spider (Xerolycosa miniata) is a native spider.

The carapace of the female (top of the cephalothorax) is brown with a paler median band that is covered in white hairs and constricted at its midpoint.

The male is similar although lighter and with clearer markings. Overall the abdomen is paler in colour than the carapace having a light central band on either side, a row of widely spaced dots are also evident, composed of white hairs with a faint white line connecting each.

    • Size: Male measure 4.5-5.5 mm and the female is slightly larger 5.5-6.5 mm
    • Life span:  Annual/possibly bi-annual life cycle. Adults can generally be found from May-July; juveniles will be present before and after this
    • Diet: Wolf spiders do not spin webs to catch prey but are active hunters and can run at fast speeds to catch insects and other invertebrates
    • Reproduction: Males have swollen ends of their palps that are used to transfer sperm to females.  Once mated females lay eggs; female Dune Wolf Spiders carry their eggs in a sac spun from her own silk. When the eggs hatch she lets the young spiderlings climb onto her back where they remain in relative safety for about a week before venturing forth on their own to find a meal.  Like most other species of spider, you need to examine the genitalia of mature adults to confirm species
    • When to see: Adults can be seen from May to July, juveniles will be present throughout the year although can’t be identified to species (as you need to examine genitalia of the adults for species confirmation). Females have been observed carrying egg sacs in July
    • Population Trend:  Locally common in its dune habitat but has apparently declined in the past 20 years.
    • Threats: Public pressure on sand dunes has increased significantly in recent years and may pose a threat to this species. The use of off-road vehicles on sand dunes can cause serious erosion and degradation, particularly to dune heath where this species is most common.
    • Fun Fact:  Wolf spiders are from the family Lycosidae and their name refers to an early (mistaken) belief that they hunted in packs like wolves. We’ve since learned these spiders are solitary, but the name has stuck all the same

How you can help: 

Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Wolf Dune Spider through specific projects and campaigns such as “Ardeer Peninsula – Scotland’s bee haven” but we need your help!

Join a recording scheme and log your finds – send any records/sightings to the British Arachnological Society or download the iRecord app and get recording!

Do remember that we rely on donations to continue our work.  If you have searched, found and learnt about our incredible invertebrates on our website, please do consider Making a Donation, Becoming a Member or maybe even making a purchase in our shop.  For more ideas on how to support our work find out how to Get Involved.  Thank you 🕷