small pirate wolf spider

(Piratula minuta)

Conservation Status
small pirate wolf spider
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Small pirate wolf spider is a small wolf spider. It occurs in the United States from Maine to North Carolina west to Minnesota and Illinois, and in Canada from Newfoundland west to Saskatchewan. It occurs throughout Minnesota. There are few records in the state, likely due to its small size and that it is frequently misidentified as one of seven other Piratula and Pirata species.

Females are to 532 (2.8 to 3.7 mm) in length and have a leg length of (10.1 mm). Males are smaller, 332 to (2.5 to 3.2 mm) in length.

The front part of the body (cephalothorax) is longer than wide. The upper side (carapace) of the cephalothorax is moderately low and relatively flat when viewed from the side, about the same height from the second (posterior) row of eyes to the dorsal groove. It is broadly rounded and nearly vertical in front, rounded and sloping on the sides. It is brown to blackish-brown with a pale stripe in the middle and a forked, reddish-yellow band that extends from behind the eyes on each side, merges near the distal groove, and extends to the rear margin. On each side of the carapace there is a submarginal pale stripe and a thin white marginal stripe. There are eight eyes in two rows of four each. The front (anterior) row has four small eyes and is straight or slightly curved forward. The rear (posterior) row has two very large posterior median eyes (PME) and two large posterior lateral eyes (PLE). The PLEs are set behind the PMEs, and some authors describe this arrangement as three rows of eyes. The rear row is about equal in width to the middle row. The PMEs are closer to the PLEs than to each other. The PMEs and PLEs have a layer of reflective tissue internally. This allows the spider to see in relative darkness. It also causes their eyes to shine when hit by the beam of a flashlight. The basal segment of the jaws (chelicerae) is large and powerful. The forward-facing (upper) margin has 3 teeth. The rear-facing (lower) margin has three teeth but the third is much reduced, making it appear to have just two teeth.

The abdomen is egg-shaped and is covered with short hairs. It is dark brown with a row of five or six small white spots on each side.

The legs are long and spiny. They are yellowish-brown and mottled with dark brown but are not banded. There are three claws at the end of the last segment (tarsus) on each leg, but these are not visible to the naked eye.




Female Body Length: to 532 (2.8 to 3.7 mm)

Male Body Length: 332 to (2.5 to 3.2 mm)

Legspan: (10.1 mm)






Similar Species


meadows, hayfields, marshes, swamps, and bogs.




May through September






Life Cycle


“Half-grown“ individuals overwinter and mature in late May and early June.






Distribution Map



24, 29, 30, 82.

Wallace, H. K. & Exline, H. (1978). Spiders of the genus Pirata in North America, Central America and the West Indies (Araneae: Lycosidae). Journal of Arachnology 5: 1-112.





  Class Arachnida (arachnids)  


Araneae (spiders)  


Araneomorphae (typical spiders)  
  Infraorder Entelegynae (entelegyne spiders)  


Lycosoidea (wolf spiders and allies)  


Lycosidae (wolf spiders)  





Until recently, this species was known as Pirata minutus. All spiders in the genus Piratula were formerly included in the genus Pirata. Piratula was treated as a synonym of Pirata. In a recent revision of the species Pirata (Omelko et al., 2011) Piratula was reestablished as a genus and 25 Pirata species were transferred to Piratula.




Pirata exigua

Pirata minutus


Common Names


small pirate wolf spider










The hard, upper (dorsal), shell-like covering (exoskeleton) of the body or at least the thorax of many arthropods and of turtles and tortoises. On crustaceans, it covers the cephalothorax. On spiders, the top of the cephalothorax made from a series of fused sclerites.



The front part of the body of various arthropods, composed of the head region and the thoracic area fused together. Eyes, legs, and antennae are attached to this part.



The pair of stout mouthparts, corresponding to jaws, in arachnids and other arthropods in the subphylum Chelicerata.



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.











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Alfredo Colon

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  Alfredo Colon
8/1 to 9/7/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

small pirate wolf spider  






Created: 6/8/2022

Last Updated:

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