Who's Afraid of the Eight-Legged-Wolf?
There is nothing to fear from this little troublemaker despite its name. There will soon be a very funny sight to be seen as Super Mum wolf spider will be staggering around under the weight of hundreds of babies on her back.
These little troublemakers get their name from their hunting preference of stalking down their prey much like a wolf does, making them the top predators in your lawn. They will go after crickets, flies, ants and even other spiders. Here is a good video of this lawn predator in action.
The wolf spider is a solitary buddy who enjoys hunting and hanging out by itself. They live in holes in your lawn but will often roam about looking for their next meal. This buddy does most of its hunting at night, so while you’re asleep, the wolf spider is helping keep the insect numbers down in your garden – naturally.
Wolf spiders are found all over the world but there are several species just found in Australia. The Garden Wolf Spider is the most common wolf spider in Australia and loves to live in open woodlands and your backyard.
There are several different ways you can see these buddies. At night you can take a torch out to your lawn and follow the light with your eyes. You will see little green reflections shining back at you. These little green dots are spider eyes, and on your lawn you can be confident that they most likely belong to wolf spiders. The more little green lights you see, the better. Imagine how many insects these buddies are gobbling up for you each night.
Another common time to spot these spiders is when you’re digging in the garden. As they spend a lot of time in their holes in your garden, wolf spiders are prone to being dug up. They may look a little stunned at first but they will soon scurry away into the soil to hide and dig a new hole.
The third most common way to see these little troublemakers might be your least favourite. When winter sets in, mum will often bring her egg sac inside your house to escape the cold. Unfortunately this can upset some people who would prefer them outside and it can actually hatch the eggs too early in the heat of your house. You can gently move her and her egg sac outside without injuring this Super Mum. See the tip below on how best to accomplish this.
For those of us who aren’t arachnophobic, one of the sweetest things about the wolf spider is the way that mum will diligently carry around her egg sac and even help the babies hatch out by moistening the shell with her mouth. Once hatched, the babies will be patiently carried around on mum’s back until they are big enough to face the real world. If you’re not too squeamish then have a look at this video of mum with hundreds of babies on her back (don’t try this at home).
When the babies are ready to leave mum’s back, they will often send out web-like tendrils that catch in the wind and will carry them off to new locations. This process is called ‘ballooning’. Recently there was an amazing case of adults ballooning in Wagga Wagga in 2012 to get away from rising flood waters. It is very rare for an adult wolf spider to balloon like this and on such a large scale. Click here to see what this amazing sight looked like.
While wolf spiders will generally run away from you and unless provoked, won’t bite. If they do bite, you don’t need to panic as their venom has very little effect on humans, it will just hurt a little. So please try to think of these little troublemakers as helping friends, not horrible fiends.
DID YOU KNOW
Many spiders rely on their webs and the vibrations given off by animals to catch their prey. Wolf spiders on the other hand rely almost entirely on their eyesight. Wolf spiders have eight eyes, four small ones in a row and four large ones above these that give them one of the best eyesights of all spiders.
Don’t reach for the fly-spray when you see these guys wandering in or around your house. Instead, put a container on top of them, slide a piece of paper under, and carry them to your lawn where they will get to work removing those pesky insects.