Mottled-brown wolf spider

2013 October 26

November 11, 2012 was a warm night, and so I left the porch light on to see if anything would be drawn to it. Quite a number of things came, but the population wasn’t nearly as biased towards moths as it was in the spring (in fact, we only got a couple of moth species). This medium-sized spider (body about a quarter-inch long) was one of the things that came. I don’t know if it was actually drawn to the light as such, or if it was hunting the other small arthropods that were drawn to the light, but at any rate, there it was. It’s definitely a wolf spider, with those two big eyes.

The mottled pattern really is effective for breaking up the outline. If this spider was on soil instead of on the wall of the house, it would have been practically invisible.

Looking more closely at the face, it looks like the pedipalps are bulging a bit at the ends, but not too much. I think it’s probably an immature male.

A lot of wolf spiders spend the winter in the “subnivean environment”, the thin layer of slightly-above-freezing air between the snow and the not-quite-frozen ground, and he’d probably be able to spend the whole winter there eating the other creatures that are too cold to flee properly. And then he can be mature and ready to mate in the spring.

Several of the Thin-Legged Wolf Spiders in the genus Pardosa have this particular build and pattern of mottling. Two that not only look similar, but are also northern species that could easily live around here and are likely to be running around in cold weather, are Pardosa groenlandica[1] and Pardosa xerampelina (although wolf spiders are notoriously variable in their coloration, and a positive ID would have needed a shot of the genitalia).

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[1] With a name like “groenlandica”, one suspects that they have been found in Greenland. Which in turn would mean that they are pretty darned cold-tolerant.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. October 27, 2013

    Another great post.

    All of those hair sensors on the legs give the game away – the guy can’t see worth a darn and needs everything he can muster to get a decent picture of the environment.

  2. October 29, 2013

    Scary, but interesting.

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