Monday, August 20, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: What's With All The Screaming?

I was shifting the small goats' pasture to new ground today when I moved some old wood out of the way of the fence, and found this lady in an odd, knobby jumper:


Mother was not very happy about the roof coming off.  I only had my phone with me to further invade her privacy, so the photo is not what it could have been.

She's a wolf spider (family Lycosidae) and the kids have just hatched. That's their empty egg case she's carrying behind her like a limp balloon.  Once they hatch, they climb her legs and ride around on her back until they are big enough to go off on their own to hunt.

Field guide authors and nature writers feel the curious need to emphasize the "solitary" nature of the wolf spider, as if they were some kind of weird hermits in contrast to the normally highly gregarious arachnid clan.

Really? So carrying several hundred of your family members around as they jostle for position on your back for a good chunk of your own lifespan is not enough togetherness for any arthropod?

1 comment:

  1. I would want some alone time after carrying around that many babies too! Or knowing that this stage was coming, I would savor my solitary time for as long as possible.

    And thank goodness these spiders are solitary for at least some portion of their lives! The wolf spiders in our barn get huge, blend in perfectly with many feed bags, and you can practically touch them and they won't move. Somehow, several years ago. one of these spiders managed to situate itself pirate-parrot-style on my shoulder, and I didn't notice it was there until I saw the reflection of us in my kitchen window. That will get the adrenaline going- both the realization that a spider the size of your palm is sitting on you *and* that you didn't notice it getting itself there.

    Nature show narrators often inject strange observations into their commentaries as well- my least favorite are when they talk about how *amazing* it is that such an efficient predator (i.e. a mountain lion or a honey badger) can be a tender, caring parent. Um, humans like to think of themselves as good caring parents, and we (collectively) kill an awful lot of animals. Why so judgey about animals that don't have access to a slaughter house?


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