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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: lycosidae (1)

Bug of the month

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by Chloe
Publish date
1 July 2011
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This guest post is by Chloe, a Live Exhibits keeper at Melbourne Museum.

Garden Wolf Spiders, Lycosa godeffroyi, are commonly found on the prowl around Victorian gardens at night. They are modern spiders, or araneomorphs, in the family Lycosidae and they differ from many other spiders through their prey capture technique. Wolf spiders are active hunters that chase down their prey.

Wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi	Wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Minibeast Wildlife
 

During the day wolf spiders seek cover in vertical burrows, often utilising discarded invertebrate burrows, however they will dig their own if necessary.

Wolf spider emerging from its burrow Wolf spider emerging from its burrow
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria

Wolf spider peering out of its burrow Wolf spider peering out of its burrow, using its posterior eyes
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Wolf spiders are attractive spiders, ranging in colour from black to orange-brown with striking grey patterns on their carapace. Males have large bulbs on their pedipalps and females are typically larger and more robust than males. They are common throughout southern Australia in a range of habitats.

Wolf spider Wolf spider
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Minibeast Wildlife
 

Males court female through a series of leg drums and vibrations while ‘dancing’ with his forelegs.  If the female is receptive she will allow him to approach.  The male will then present the female with a sperm package on one of his palpal bulbs, (as spiders do not have penises) which she will store and use to fertilise her eggs.

Female wolf spider carrying her egg sac Female wolf spider carrying her egg sac
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Sometime after fertilisation the female produces an egg sac, which she carries with her (even while hunting) under her abdomen. 30 – 40 days later the eggs hatch producing up to 200 spiderlings. The spiderlings do not immediately disperse; instead they ride on their mother’s back for a few weeks.  When they are ready to fend for themselves they disperse via silk strands.

Female wolf spider with spiderlings Female wolf spider covered in her spiderlings
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Female wolf spider carrying her spiderlings Female wolf spider carrying her spiderlings
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Wolf spiders are not aggressive by nature; they will however defend themselves if provoked. The anatomy of their feet – they have three claws and no hair tuffs on the tips of their legs – means they cannot negotiate slippery surfaces. This makes them good pets because they are easy to house and care for in a glass jar or terrarium.

Wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi Wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Minibeast Wildlife
 

 

Links:

Victorian Spiders

Wolf spider infosheet

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