Before I left on a 12 day trip to the southern prairie provinces, I left a post with the puzzling image of spider riding a trembling aspen leaf that was spinning in the wind. How did it get there?
Here is a video of a spider-hunting wasp at work. While I recorded this, the wasp would often leave the spider behind and move on, apparently to reconnect with the location of the burrow:
Could a spider-hunting wasp have been responsible?
Wasps in the Family Pompilidae are spider hunters – usually dark, long-legged wasps that can be observed scurrying through the undergrowth or across the sand in search of spiders. When they find a suitable spider, they paralyze it with their stinger and drag it back to a prepared burrow. Once the spider is in the burrow an egg is laid on it, then the nest is covered and the wasp goes searching for more victims. Some species of Pompilidae will drop the spider near the nest site, dig the burrow and then return to drag the spider inside. Others will temporarily place the spider on a nearby plant¹…and that is probably why I found this dazed spider on the aspen leaf. What is amazing here is that, although the spider appears partially paralyzed, it was still latched-on so tightly to the leaf that the spinning leaf did not break its hold.
The spider pic’s await ID at BugGuide (so far it sits in Family Lycosidae, the Wolf spiders), and I expect I shall soon have some bright entomologist or arachnologist not only identify the spider genus, but also provide the most likely wasp genus that preys on this spider.