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Nature Notebook – Wolf Spiders

In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s highlight a dedicated mother in the animal kingdom – the wolf spider.

Wolf spiders are one of the most common and widespread families of spider, with over 200 species in North America.

When it’s time to lay eggs, many species of spiders attach their egg sac to a plant or structure and abandon it. Others will protect the egg sac from predators. Wolf spiders go above and beyond to protect their young and ensure survival by actually carrying them around! This allows the female to hunt for insects and move around to regulate the egg sac temperature while protecting her babies.

She spins a large round egg sac, attaches it to her spinerettes, and drags it around after her until the spiderlings hatch, usually about 20 to 100. Once hatched, the spiderlings climb onto the mother’s back and stay with her for about two weeks before wandering off. If they fall of her back while moving around, they climb back on and hang on to the setae, or bristle like structures covering the spider. 

Wolf spiders are 1/8 to 1 3/8th in. and can be recognized by their unusual arrangement of eyes. They have two larger forward facing ones with the other smaller ones arranged so the spiders can see well in all directions. Don’t worry about getting close to these spiders. They are docile and want to avoid you.