Sunday, March 25, 2012

Adventures in Spider Misidentification: Crying Wolf

Lycosidae or another booboo
Just a week ago it looked like it might be an early spring, but now all is grey and white and brown again. So, I'm continuing this weekend's nostalgic reminiscences of previous seasons' more lively times and I present a small female spider carrying her egg sack behind her across a carpet of green.
Female Wolf Spider with egg sac
 We think this is a Wolf Spider (Lycosidae) mostly because the egg sac is stuck to the spinnerets, but also she has a pair of large front eyes and the general on the ground brown spider with long legs look. I'm not sure that any of these characters are definitive, but the picture was taken with a point-and-shoot camera, so what you see is all you are going to get.
Male Wolf Spider wannabe with aphid
As far as I know, parental care in Wolf Spiders is limited to the females, so this male with its swollen palps lacks the useful egg sac character. Still, this looks wolf spidery to me and the male was hunting in the same area six weeks before the female was found carrying an egg sac. So there could be a cause-and-effect relationship going on here.
Big median eyes, swollen palps, and blurry aphid dinner
A higher quality camera captured this image, so we can at least claim that he seems to have the proper three rows with a large pair of eyes arrangement of a lycosid spider.
Concrete-coloured mystery spider
Lest you think we call all long-legged cursorial spiders Wolf Spiders, I offer this weak defence. We don't know what it is, but it blends into the sidewalk nicely. A few months ago I might have called out 'wolf spider', but now I've learned to look a spider right in the eyes before calling it a name.
Neither lycosid nor Betty Davis eyes for that matter

1 comment:

  1. Good call on the eyes! I used to call most "wolf-spider looking" ground spiders wolf spiders too. Not sure on this one -- I'd go with the Agelenidae family for a not-wolf-spider, but I'm no sure if the eyes are too far apart here.