Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wolf Spiders

This is a male wolf spider - a Pardosa species, I think, though I'm not certain which one but it could well be P. amentata. It's spring, he's looking for a mate and success depends on being very cautious and on using those two palps - the black, hairy, club-shaped arms on either side of his jaws - with consummate skill. If he gets it right he'll become a father, if he gets it wrong he might well become a meal because....

... this is the object of his affections. The female is over twice his size and very aggressive. Wolf spiders chase down and leap on their prey instead of snaring it in a web and have (for a spider) good eyesight. She's watching his every move, so ......

.... he creeps very cautiously over the edge of her leaf and tentatively waves his left palp. Every now and then he'll vibrate it and the tremors will travel through the leaf and be picked up by her feet.

He creeps a little closer and waves his left palp again, like a sailor waving a semaphore flag .....

... then closer still and waves the right one. It's a courtship that goes on for a long time, and if it's successful the outcome looks like this....


  1. Amazing succession of images, Phil.

  2. Fascinating Phil.
    Let's hope he gets it right :)

  3. They were pretty cooperative, Caroline - too busy courting to bother about me!

  4. They usually seem to Keith - there are always plenty of females in my garden carrying egg cocoons around.....