Tom's Blog

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Burrowing wolf spider

While she was spraying dandelions, Kathie discovered in the middle of our lawn, but quite near the Cabin Prairie, a small animal hole. A dark, somewhat vicious looking creature was crouched inside. Marci's research identified it as a burrowing wolf spider (Geolycosa sp.) (the photo here is hers). Although not rare, this is certainly an interesting creature, and one we have never seen before at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. According to the Audubon Society field guide to insects and spiders, the spider constructs a vertical burrow that is a few feet deep, with the walls cemented by silk. The spider seldom emerges but lies in wait for insects to pass by.

I have a pair of Pentax Papillio close-focusing binoculars, which were perfect for studying this creature in situ. While I was watching, an ant passed the edge of the hole without being caught. Perhaps the spider was interested in larger prey.

While we were watching, Kathie reached down to move a blade of grass. In an instant, the spider was down its hole. I thought about digging down to see how the hole was constructed, but decided it was probably better to leave the spider in peace.

If you look carefully in the photo above, you will see one of the spider's feelers.


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