Thin-Legged Wolf Spider
Source: National Geograhic Photo Library
Photographer: Medford Taylor
wolf spider with spiderlings riding on her back
Spiders are serious predators so mating can be a bit dangerous especially for the males. Male spiders have to be careful when meeting the female. Using his claws he will send gentle, even vibrations through the web, unlike the quick, jerky movements of scared insects. This announces his arrival, but he still has to convince the female that she shouldn’t eat him. Male Jumping spiders will do a dance to show the female why he is there and the male Wolf spider will wave his hairy front legs. The male Nursery Web spider (being quite a gentleman) will wrap an insect in his silk and give it to the female as a gift! If the female chooses NOT to eat him she will mate with him. After mating she may still decide to eat him before he gets away. Tough date!! Good news: this is not too common.
Spiders will lay between 2 and 1000 eggs, depending on the species. Almost all female spiders protect their eggs by making a silk ‘bed’ and then covering them with a silk ’blanket’. She then wraps them in more silk to make the egg sac. She hangs the sac someplace safe and guards it until the babies hatch. When the babies hatch they often stay inside the sac to finish developing. Some mother’s stay until the spiderlings leave the sac, others will either leave or die before seeing their babies.
The Wolf spider is a super-mom! She will attach the egg sac to spinnerets and carry the sac with her until the eggs hatch. Once the babies are born they climb onto her back and stay there until they are fully developed, living off their egg yolks (from their egg). This could take weeks. They go everywhere with her, including hunting. If one falls off, mom will stop what she is doing until it is back on top!
Comb-footed spiders will feed their spiderlings liquid from their mouths.
Many spiders will go off on their own after their eggs hatch, leaving the babies to fend for themselves.