Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wolf's Lair

This menacing little wolf spider Pardosa amentata, less than a centimetre long, lives in a crevice beside a wall in our garden. Wolf spiders chase down their prey, rather than spinning a web and can show an impressive turn of speed. Earlier in the year they were engaged in their elaborate courtship ritual, where the smaller male faces the female and signals to her with a pair of palps which he used like semaphore flags. If she gets the message they'll mate, if not she may well eat him. It's a very delicate process, performed by the male with great caution, and can go on for hours but, if all goes well ...



... the female produces eggs which are carried around in a silken cocoon attached to the underside of her abdomen.

Then she takes every opportunity to bask in the sun, to speed up the development of the embryos in her eggs. When they hatch, she'll carry all the minute spiderlings around, clinging to her abdomen, until they're large enough to fend for themselves. 

4 comments:

  1. Fascinating pics. The wolf spiders I'm used to seeing at my summer cottage in Ontario, Canada, are considerably larger, up to 10 centimetres. (Most are half that size but that's plenty big enough.)

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  2. "....and can go on for hours but, if all goes well ..."
    Oh poor Mr Spider!

    The first photo, in particular, is an arachnophobic's worst nightmare. :O)

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  3. Hi Frank, our spiders are pretty tame in comparison. We only have one species (the house spider Tegenaria spp.) with jaws that can penetrate human flesh and it's maybe 5cm. long, including legs. They usually come into houses when the nights get colder in autumn..

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  4. Hi Lesley, it's definitely a case of females being deadlier than the males, but they are quite cute when they are carrying their young around, which have to hang on for dear life.

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