Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Fraught Courtship of Wolf Spiders

Thurday's Guardian Country Diary is a description of the courtship of wolf spiders















The low stone wall along our garden path is a favourite haunt of wolf spiders, like this male that has caught and is eating a fly. Wolf spiders don't make webs - they stalk their prey, so any fly landing on the sun-warmed stones is taking a big risk.















The male wolf spiders detect the presence of females while they are still hidden in the undergrowth - there must be some scent communication. As soon as the males detect a possible mate they begin signalling with the black palps on either side of their head - left,.....


..... then right, alternately ..... then he lowers both and vibrates his front pair of legs, before repeating the whole performance which can go on for hours


The female is larger than the male and very aggressive, so he creeps up on her a little at a time, attempting to pacify her and mate. She repeatedly chases him away, but he doesn't give up.



















Here he's captured her attention and is signalling furiously with those palps ...


















...... and edges closer. Eventually, when he has her confidence, he transfers sperm to her with those brush-like palps ...















...and then she appears with her egg case attached to the tip of her abdomen, speeding up incubation by sunbathing on the warm stones. Eventually.........




..... she appears with the hatched spiderlings attached to her abdomen. They'll cling to her for a few days until they can fend for themselves.

Double clicking on images will produce a larger, clearer image

4 comments:

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    1. It's amazing how ferocious the female spiders are!

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  2. Brilliant post, you got pin sharp and very close shots of the courtship. I have the same species in my garden, still unidentified due to my reluctance to look at their genitals under the microscope, but I believe a Pardosa sp.

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    1. If the coming weekend is warm and sunny I'm hoping to get better photos of the mother with the spiderlings clinging to her abdomen.

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