I am a highly superstitious person. I always throw salt over my shoulder when I spill it. I always make wishes on white horses, when I go under train tracks andÂ when I seeÂ hay wagons. But there is one thing I never, ever doÂ and that is kill a spider. I am certain Death of Spiders (related to Death of Rats) is waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting human that dares tread (literally) on one of his charges.
Besides, as a gardener, I know that spiders are one of those friendly creatures you are suppose to let live in your garden as they are really good at dining on the not so friendly creatures that also reside in the garden. If I could, I would make tiny little take out menus for all the local spiders.
This past weekend I found a female wolf spider scuttling through the flower beds. How did I know she was a she? As spiders don’t wear skirts, the giant egg sac hanging off her rear end is a huge clue. It brings new meaning to the phrase Baby Got Back.
Female wolf spiders lug their egg sacs around with them and when the babies are mature enough, mom rips open the sac to set them free. Then the kiddos attach themselves to her back and will stay there for several weeks while she resumes daily activities. Where is dad in all this? Probably watching a riveting game of spider football. Then again, maybe mom ate him. How’s that for modern feminism.
The name wolf spider covers a class of spiders. There are in fact over 2000 species of wolf spider. They can be found almost anywhere in the world and are identifiable by the fact that they are very hairy, have 8 eyes of varying sizes and do not spin webs.
That’s right; they lack the artistic stylings of other spiders and could not save a pig’s life if they had too. They do not build webs. They are hunters, who will pounce on passing insects or even chase down an insect that seems particularly attached to its life. In fact, wolf spiders are so named because it was once mistakenly thought that wolf spiders hunted their prey in packs, like wolves do. This is not the case though. For the most part, wolf spiders are solitary arachnids. In fact, they will eat each other if given the opportunity and lack other food sources.
Wolf spiders are not poisonous and tend not to bite, though a female wolf spider with an egg sac is much more aggressive than usual. She will, like any good mother, defend her babies to her death and will fight anything she sees as a threat.
While spiders may be scary looking, the old wives tales knew what they were talking about, almost. These little lovelies will eat hundreds if not thousands of bad buggies in your garden during their lifetime. If you kill one of these spiders, it will be your own fault, not bad luck, that insects demolish your prize flowers.