Friday, October 29, 2010

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet would have been quite unhappy to encounter this...

While sweeping the front step for the mayor's big visit (more to come on this), I uncovered this little, er, big lady, hiding in the leaves. She was almost as big as my house key, when I measured her with it. I called Chris over to admire her. He promptly quipped "Better get out your gun... " There is a funny story behind this, which I will tell in a bit.

This is a Wolf Spider and I am pretty sure it is Hogna helluo, but I might be wrong. There are a lot of things that can be tricky with the identification of spiders. Anyway, the photos I have found match up pretty well. If any of my spider buddies think it might be another species, I welcome your comments. The scientific epithet helluo means "devourer".

Wolf Spiders, in the family Lycosidae, have three rows of eyes. There are 8 total, four smaller ones on the bottom row, two larger ones in the middle and two more on top. This allows the spider to see various angles in order to snatch its prey. Most Wolf spiders do not make a web, but rely on the element of surprise and a burst of speed to catch their prey. (Funnel Web Wolf Spiders , that live in the South, do make webs. ) Wolf Spiders do make silk for constructing their egg case and for laying a drag line for safety. The female Wolf Spider will carry her egg sac behind her, attached to her abdomen. She raises her abdomen off the ground while she is carrying the sac. Once the spiderlings have hatched they will ride on her back for some time.

You can see the eye pattern quite easily in this photo.

And now for the funny story... Chris and I had to attend a benefits meeting at the county jail. No, we didn't get put away ;) While there, a big commotion happened in the corner. People were jumping up and making all kinds of noise and jestures. What was the culprit? A tiny, itty-bitty yellow crab spider, not much bigger than a quarter inch. Some guy whacked it, it jumped off the wall and started to run along the base board and then another one squished it. Chris asked me what was going on. His response, "All these guys are carrying guns and they are afraid of a spider?" I giggled for about two minutes, visioning them drawing out their guns and aiming at the poor spider.

So, when I realized the mayor would be accompanied by armed body guards, I shooed Miss Spider under the building, out of harms way. I wouldn't want her to get shot. ;)


1 comment:

Scott said...

Neat spider, love the big wolf spiders. Had one fall from the ceiling onto my keyboard on Friday. It was stunned so I grabbed my camera but it had vanished by the time I got back to the keyboard.