After finding a meadow chock-full of wolf spiders on the southeastern edge of High Park, I resolved to go back and catch a few so I could take more detailed photos. It took planning and a bit of trial and error, but I’m very pleased with the results and am going to try it again sometime!
A Bit About Wolf Spiders
Spiders can be loosely divided into three categories: ones that weave webs, ones that wait in ambush, and ones that hunt on foot. Wolf spiders (family Lycosidae) are hunters. Like another family of hunters, the jumping spiders, they have excellent eyesight. But while jumpers hunt during the day, wolf spiders tend to hunt at night; a human with a headlamp can spot their cat-like eyeshine.
They can look pretty drab compared to the zebra stripes, metallic iridescence, and intricate patterns other spiders sport. Don’t let the dress code fool you, though. They are still visual creatures that communicate with suitors through strangely hypnotic dance.
Wolfies are a bit unusual, for spiders: they care for their young. The female spider attaches her egg sac to her butt, and after the spiderlings hatch she carries them on her back. (It’s not love as we know it, but pure instinct; wolf mothers will guard fake egg sacs and carry any spiderling that climbs aboard.)
There are many species of wolf spider in Toronto and I’m still looking through BugGuide trying to narrow it down—but these are probably in the genus Pardosa.
Without Further Ado
I caught and stored the spiders using plastic salad dressing cups with air holes poked through the lids, and (after trying various containers) photographed them in a large, flat-sided glass food container with my shitty smartphone and a cheap stick-on macro lens.
To do differently next time:
- sturdier/more waterproof shoes
- long sleeves & bug repellent
- find a more lightweight/compact container (plexiglas? foldable?)
- bring Q-tip ends to soak in water so the talent can have a drink while waiting
There’s a lot of political stuff coming up, but hopefully I can find time for another proper expedition soon! Stay tuned.