Abstract Multimodal signals may compensate for environmental constraints on communication, as signals in different modalities vary in efficacy. We examined the influence of complex microhabitats on transmission of vibratory and visual signals of courting male Schizocosa ocreata wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) with laser Doppler vibrometry (LDV) and behavioral observations in lab and field. We measured maximum potential detection distance of visual and vibratory signals by females in laboratory mesocosms, recorded vibration signal attenuation on different substrates, and estimated transmission distances for male vibration signals in the field. We also determined effective line-of sight visual detection distances in the field with laser distance measures. Together, these data were used to estimate the potential and effective active space of multimodal signals. LDV measures show leaves are highly conductive substrates for wolf spider vibratory signals compared to others (soil, wood, rock). For both visual and vibratory modes, lab estimates of maximum potential distance for signal transmission and detection (behavior studies) exceeded estimates of effective active space (signal attenuation, “vanishing point,” and “line-of-sight” measures). Field estimates of transmission distance for signal modes overlap, such that in close range (<20 cm), vibratory signals are more likely to be detected, while farther away, visual signals are more likely to be seen. These findings thus support current hypotheses regarding how multimodal communication might extend the range of overall signal active space or compensate for environmental constraints.