Saturday, 12 July 2014

Watching Pirate wolf spiders

I went to the wildlife garden with the intention of watching some wolf pirate spiders. These are spiders that often walk on water and are found in close association to wet habitats. They are wolf spiders and, although they make a silk retreat, they do not make a web for hunting, instead relying on an ambush strategy to capture prey. The species in the pond most resembles Pirata piraticus, the most common species. These spiders are found as adults from May to September.
 I sat by the edge of the pond, and was entertained by several pond skaters squabbling for a dead mirid bug.
But it wasn't long when I spotted a male pirate wolf. I took a photo, but he rapidly disappeared in the thick vegetation of the pond. These spiders have a very characteristic coluration, with a whhite edge around their thorax and abdomen and a background rich brown and greenish, with unpatterned legs. Males have paired white spots on the abdomen, while females also have a white V shaped mark around the middle of her abdomen.
Another smaller individual, also a male, crossed the pond rapidly. In a cursory view they do look remarkably like pond skaters, specially due to the pale fringe of the abdomen and the way they move on the water...
...but he crossed the pond again and I lost it too.
Then I spotted another one. This one looked quite shy and reluctant to move, and it sat hidden by the stems on the water edge.
 I got closer and gently enticed it to come out (top shot and below) and then it become obvious that she was carrying a large, white egg sac.
It then become obvious why the white stripes, these are very similar to the reflections of the water on the edge of the pond, and probably help concealing the spider to their predators, and possibly their victims.

2 comments:

George Pilkington said...

Nice article Africa and great photos to boo! Thanks for sharing! Cheers George P

Anonymous said...

:-)