Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Piggy-Back Maternity

While out doing a bit of fall gardening yesterday morning, I stumbled across this awesome example of motherhood and was able to get her photo. This is a wolf spider, with her "clutch" of baby spiders (spiderlings) covering her abdomen. Mama's body was about 2" in length - she was a true "big mama"!
Wolf spiders are wonderful predators and great to have in your yard and garden. They primarily eat insects, which they often catch by active hunting, just like a wolf...which is how they got their name. They do not spin a web.
The female makes an egg sac which she carries around under her abdomen until the spiderlings develop. Then she opens the sac and the spiderlings climb out onto her abdomen, where they ride for a week or more. I love seeing a female wolf spider with her babies riding piggy back!
Because of their size, wolf spiders scare many people, but they are very beneficial and will only bite if picked up and handled. (Their bite is similar to a bee sting in pain intensity.) Wolf spiders move rapidly and are "dirt" colored, so they can actually be rather hard to see and even harder to catch. Rather than catch (or kill) a wolf spider, just smile when you see one and send a quick mental thank-you its way for the insect control it spends its life providing!


Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

They are amazing creatures but I really don't like finding them inside my house! They do like the garden and I've seen several mamas this year!

ProfessorRoush said...

I see the wolf spider all the time in my garden but I've never seen a newly gravid mother....thanks for warning me so I'll know what I'm seeing if I get lucky sometime.