October 21, 2021
When I walked into the kitchen earlier this week, I noticed a large wolf spider on the floor. While I realize it is the fall and the spiders are more active trying to get their egg sacs set before the winter, it still surprised me to see her indoors. We spray our yard quarterly to keep down the ants and slugs that infest the green space (primarily for moles) and place a barrier around the exterior of the house. I mentioned that while the black ants are still rampant in the yard, they have not been seen inside the house since we started spraying. I know I brought the false widow from my mom’s yard last week. I am certain Melissa brought the wolf when she began moving her succulents off the front porch and inside. I put a glass over the wolf and moved it outside.
When I looked online, I found the Carolina Wolf Spider (Hogna carolinensis), is commonly found across North America. It is the largest North American wolf spider, typically measuring .4-.8 inches (18–20 mm) for males and about 1-1.4 inches (22–35 mm) for females. The wolf spider is mottled brown with a dark underside and males have orange coloration on their sides. Wolf spiders live in either self-made burrows or ones they find. Like all wolf spiders, H. carolinensis does not make a web to catch prey but instead hunt by ambushing prey from their burrows. These spiders are particularly known for the females carrying their egg sacs on their bodies during the incubation period (note the white sac in the picture). The Carolina wolf spider also has a unique type of venom that both paralyzes their prey and helps prevent microbes from their prey from infecting them. Unlike the insects it preys on, the wolf spider can thermoregulate, which is important for animals that inhabit desert ecosystems or locations with large temperature swings. That would include Arkansas.
When I was researching the False widow, one of the sites had suggested the way to capture and release a spider was to put a glass over them, then slide a ridged piece of paper under the glass, and then pick the captured spider up for release. I had read this previously, and even practiced it on occasion. I have always liked wolf spiders and thought this would be a good way to preserve the wolf. Since we spray and granulate the yard, I thought it would be best to move the wolf to another location to help ensure its survival. I placed it on the ground just off our spray boundary. I noted there were already two small spider borrows in the bare ground I set it on. I did not know what was in them but assumed it was other wolf spiders. I hope this female and her brood will make it until next year.
Thoughts: After I picked the wolf spider up in the glass, I offered to show it to Melissa. Oddly, Melissa did not want to see the spider when I offered. While Melissa may not have been impressed, others have been. Hogna carolinensis was voted as the state spider of South Carolina in 2000 after an initial suggestion by a third-grade student. While there is not a significant difference in the sprint speed of the Carolina wolf spider between males and females, there is a difference in chances a male or a female will flee from a threat. Researchers believe that this is because male spiders do not own burrows as often as females, so they are not able to find a safe escape in their burrows as their female counterparts. In humans this is known as the fight or flight response. The response is triggered by the release of the hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or run away to safety. There are some threats that we cannot run from. That is why we develop vaccines. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.