The Difference Between Male & Female Wolf Spiders
If you’re interested in wolf spiders, it’s likely that you’re wondering about the sexual dimorphism of these animals.
Not only do they look different, but they also have unique behavior and molting processes.
Whether you’re curious about the differences between male wolf spiders and female ones is an excellent question to ask yourself!
Below you’ll discover the important characteristics of male and female wolf spiders.
Sexual DimorphismIin Wolf Spiders
In wolf spiders, sexual dimorphism occurs in three forms: females are larger than males, while males are smaller.
In the vagrant species Artoria, the difference is even more pronounced, with dwarf males half the size of females.
However, the reason for this pronounced SSD is unclear, but it could be linked to direct male-female competition.
Foreleg ornamentation of male wolf spiders is different from that of females, with some species having extremely dense brush-like forelegs that resemble spiders’ webs.
The males show these foreleg ornamentations as secondary sexual ornamentation, and the appearance of the hairy setae in male wolf spiders may have some role in reproduction.
Currently, 14 out of 24 Schizocosa species in North America display foreleg dimorphism.
Female Wolf Spiders Carry Eggs
When female wolf spiders are mating, they begin building an egg sac.
The spiders spin a circular disc on the ground, enlarging it until it is almost round. Once the egg sac is complete, the female wolf spider will lay the eggs in the center.
She will then spin another disc on top of the first one, connecting the two to form the egg sac.
When the eggs hatch, the female spider uses her mouthparts to detach the sac from the rest of her body.
Wolf spiders lay hundreds of eggs. The eggs are contained inside a silk sac. Baby spiders hatch from the eggs in groups of 100 to 300.
About half of the babies will make it to adulthood, and the remaining spiderlings will live on the mother’s back until they are large enough to hunt on their own.
Female wolf spiders carry eggs on their abdomens for several weeks until the spiderlings are large enough to fend for themselves.
Female Wolf Spiders Carry Young On Their Back
Most species of wolf spiders are good mothers who protect their young.
Most spider species leave the egg sac to fend for themselves after hatching, but female wolf spiders protect their young and will carry them on their back for days, weeks, or even months.
Almost all species carry their babies on their abdomen, while some species have them on their carapace. But it is not clear exactly what these spiders do to protect their young.
In the case of wolf spiders, the female will lay up to one hundred and thirty eggs. She then carries the sac on her spinnerets and gently opens the sac to let the spiderlings emerge.
After hatching, the young will climb onto their mother’s back, where they will stay for about two weeks, go through their first molt, and then head out on their own.
Male Wolf Spiders Are Undiscerning
A Cornell University behavioral scientist has discovered that male wolf spiders mate with females they know well and that a female wolf spider will kill a male who mates with an unfamiliar female.
This may be because the male’s social experiences will have influenced his choice of mate.
The research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For more information, visit Eileen Hebets’ website.
The researchers studied 44 male and female wolf spider courtship performances, observing how they crafted their complex signals and performances to entice females.
They observed how the male wolf spider would tap the female’s silk and how it would move its pedipalps, which hold the sperm.
They then examined 44 performances of the courtship ritual, using a laser vibrometer to record the vibrations of the animals.
The researchers noted that females preferred males with more elaborate displays.
They Stalk Their Prey Like Wolves
Two recent studies have explored the mating behavior of wolf spiders.
One by Emily Pickett and the other by Peter Henley of the University of California, Davis, studied the courtship ritual of two species of wolf spiders.
Both species are closely related and often interbreed in the wild, so unique courtship behavior is necessary to maintain genetic isolation.
One species, Schizocosa ocreata, is able to attract a female over a longer distance by displaying its unique courtship behavior and producing vibrations while another, Schizocosa rovneri, uses visual signals to attract the female.
Despite the fact that wolf spiders are not able to spin silk and spin webs, they provide an essential service to humans and their environment.
They hunt pest insects by pounce-attacking and trapping them with a powerful bite.
These spiders can survive in a variety of environments and prefer to hide in shadows, where they can watch over their prey and hunt them down.
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