Friday, May 14, 2010

The life and times of your friendly neighborhood Wolf Spider

It is with great pleasure that I hereby present to you my scientific treatise on the roaming habits, reproductive cycle and life span of a North American Wolf Spider (Rabidosa rabida) that was living behind my bookshelf last Tuesday – until it met its untimely demise.

Frosty Morning Web
According to Wikipedia (the only website discriminating scientists choose to trust), Wolf Spiders wander from place to place, all alone, preferring not to keep a permanent home due to the high cost of upkeep as well as the possibility of foreclosure. Some build burrows complete with trap doors, but those are the across-town “rich” cousins who can send all 800 of their offspring to private school without blinking any of their eight eyes.

Wolf Spiders are said to be “robust and agile hunters,” preferring to roam in pastures and fields, pouncing on harmful insects, eating them piece by piece, and just making a party out of the whole shebang.

I have no qualms about them being out in those fields eating little nasty insects. They are doing a job we Americans (and even illegal aliens) wouldn’t stoop to do – and I say, “God bless them, each and every one.”

But a scientific treatise is no place for quoting Tiny Tim. So let’s continue.

Again, according to Wikipedia (that bastion of arachnid information), Wolf Spiders carry their eggs in sacs under their belly, and continue to hunt without ever complaining of morning sickness or back pains. When the spiderlings emerge from their egg sac, they climb up their mother’s legs to her abdomen where they hang on for dear life, which gives me the willies just thinking about it. When old enough, the spiderlings disperse through the air – scattering hither and thither – to start their own lives.

The Wolf Spider that inhabited my home was fairly intelligent due to the fact it chose to hide behind a bookcase full of volumes written by Poe, Dickens, and Twain. Why it decided to venture across open floor to the bookcase which held Barry, Benchley and Carlin, we may never know. But it did, and in so doing, risked being seen, which it was.

A Wolf Spider can move about its environment quite stealthily, but when it is discovered, they are very easy to track – especially if you follow the high-pitched screaming of little voices yelling things like, “It's over here, kill it,” and “I'm not going to kill it, YOU kill it,” and “Daddy! Don’t just look at it! Kill it NOW!”

The spider I encountered could be described as brown in color, looking apprehensive in a McGyver (I’m gonna get out of here using this toothpick and dental floss) sort of way, and big enough to evoke an “Oh My Word! It's a Monster! Run over it with the car” kind of scream from “the women folk.”

Which brings us to our next question: What is the average lifespan of a Wolf Spider?

No one really knows how long a Wolf Spider can live in its natural environment, but the average lifespan of any Wolf Spider hiding behind a bookcase in MY house is in direct correlation with the amount of perceived threat us humans believe we are in. I, myself, did not perceive a threat from this fine specimen of spider. I did, however, perceive abundant threats from the women folk, declaring they would inflict bodily damage to my person if I didn’t “squash that beast to pieces!”

Reverting to survival instincts, I took careful aim, begged forgiveness for what I was about to do, and slammed my 10-inch steel-toed work boot upon its cephalothorax (head) and opisthosoma (guts).

I must say, the spider splattered quite nicely.

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