Halloween is the time to ponder on all things creepy. And these large, hairy predators are no exception. They are serious about hunting their prey. They creep about the environs, often in the night, in search of tender morsels such as cockroaches. Don't be squeamish. These hairy hunters are a gardener's best friend. We may not enjoy the fare they do, but their steady appetite of insects makes for excellent biological insect control.
Wolf spiders have eight eyes that reflect light when it is shone on them at night. This is an excellent way to determine the wolf spider population in your landscape. Step outside after dark and hold a flashlight level with your eyes aiming it across the garden or yard. The eyes of many spiders will stare back at you because the light will reflect off the cells in the back of the spider's eyes. This is called the tapetum. Fishing spiders and various crab spiders have these reflective cells as well. The glowing eyes are known as eye shine. Wolf spiders are generally brown with gray and black patterns. Their average body length is about one inch. The wolf spider has mouthparts which look like fangs. These are called chelicerae. The wolf spider has eight legs just as all spiders do. Wolf spiders hatch from eggs and live on their mother's back until they can hunt for themselves. It is an interesting sight to see a Mamma wolf spider with the young hitchhikers on her back.
This Rabid Wolf Spider,Rabidosa rabida,was in my house. It was dead when I found it. In the fall wolf spiders will often enter homes either in pursuit of prey or in search of a place to overwinter. If you find a wolf spider in your home it is best to herd it into a container (yes much like herding the cattle into a stock trailer) and release it outside. Your garden plants will thank you for doing so as there will be less insect pest to destroy them. Notice the brown and white stripes on the spider? This is a characteristic feature of the rabid wolf spider.
This Halloween don't cringe at the thought of those creepy crawly spiders roaming your garden like a pack of ravenous wolves. Instead, appreciate them. It is their voracious appetite which helps to keep our plants healthy. Spiders are outstanding as biological insect control in the garden.
Enhance the spider population in your garden by following these steps
- Add mulch to the garden
- Do not overwork the garden
- Leave an area of the garden wild for spider habitat.
- If using pesticides, do so sparingly
Interesting spider facts
Spiders use venom to liquefy their prey.
The silk of a spider web is very strong.
The web is actually a part of the spider's sensory system.
Nearly all spiders have a two year lifespan.
Tarantulas and trapdoor spiders can live anywhere from six to twenty years.
Wolf spiders make interesting pets.