Big ol’ spider
Location: Florida Panhandle
October 1, 2011 11:39 AM
In other spider news, this is floating on a ball in our pool as we speak. Even though it looks like a purple tennis ball, it is the size of a basketball, so this is a big spider. If I’m not mistaken, those are baby spiders on a mother’s back. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
Jeff, in the panhandle of Florida
You are absolutely correct in thinking those are spiderlings on the back of the mother spider. This is a Wolf Spider and Wolf Spiders are known for their maternal care. The female drags an egg case behind her from silken threads attached to her spinnerets. When the eggs hatch, the young spiderlings will ride around on the mother’s back for several days, eventually dispersing as they drop off or jump off. This behavior affords them some additional protection from predators as well as ensuring that all the spiderlings do not deplete the available food supply in a specific area, ensuring that they do not compete with one another for the food supply. We wanted a nice photo of a spider to use as our Bug of the Month for October and your letter arrived in such a timely manner that we selected the Wolf Spider as our October Bug of the Month.