Giant Hairy Wolf Spider Mom Spotted Carrying Babies on Back: ‘Horrifying’

Giant Hairy Wolf Spider Mom Spotted Carrying Babies on Back: ‘Horrifying’


Awolf spider has been pictured giving multiple babies a ride on her bulbous back.

In a widely shared viral Reddit post, user u/tballey revealed a picture they had taken while out on a walk of the brown and beige-striped spider with at least ten tiny young sitting on her back.

“Do me a favor and let me know where you live so I never go there,” commented one user under the post.

“Horrifying” wrote another.

There are 250 species of wolf spiders in the U.S., ranging in size between 0.24 to 1.2 inches long, according to National Geographic. Rather than weaving webs and waiting for prey to become ensnared, wolf spiders hunt down and kill their prey, injecting the victim with venom and digesting them from the inside out.

Wolf spiders are known for their unique parental care method. Parental care is one strategy that may evolve in a species to maximize the number of their offspring that survive to adulthood. In species where parental care has not evolved, such as many types of reptile and fish, the effort required by the parent to care for the young would not garner enough of a selective reward compared to their current strategy, which often involves producing as many young as possible.

“Female wolf spiders carry their egg sacs around attached to their rear ends and when the young hatch out, they climb on their mother’s back and are transported about for a few days,” Geoff Oxford, the Honorary Secretary of the British Arachnological Society, told Newsweek.

Parental care pops up throughout the animal kingdom, evolving independently in hundreds of species. Sometimes both parents are involved, although it is much more common that only one parent cares for the young, usually the female, especially in species where fertilization occurs internally.

In fish, there is a 9:3:1 ratio of male:female:bi-parental care, while in amphibians there is an equal ratio of single male and single female care, with very little bi-parental care. Birds, on the other hand, provide bi-parental care in 90 percent of species but mammals provide female-only care in 95 percent of species.

While having any degree of parental care is relatively unusual for invertebrates and other creepy crawlies, it is fairly common among spiders.

“Species that live in webs will often protect their eggs in egg sacs made from silk, and then defend the young spiderlings when they hatch,” Adam Hart, an entomologist and science communicator at the University of Gloucestershire in the U.K., told Newsweek.


“Spiders like wolf spiders, don’t live in a web so they take their young with them on their back, guarding them and tending them. Some spiders even make nurseries out of silk—a sort of ‘romper room’ for the young to live in until they are ready to be independent.”

Some species of spider take this devotion to the next level, with the baby spiders eating their mothers body as her final act of parental care.

“Some spiders actually feed their young e.g. laceweb spiders, and when the mother dies, she is consumed by her offspring—the ultimate sacrifice,” Oxford said.

Studies of this so-called matriphagy have found that the survival of the young is significantly increased by this large meal. One 2000 study found that the young spiders experienced a two to three-fold body mass increase on the day of the matriphagy.

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