…wolf spiders, that is.
I found these two Pardosa sp. (Thin-legged Wolf Spiders) ‘confronting ‘ each other on a shattered tree trunk in Elk Island National Park. However, it is not an aggressive confrontation. In the mid-summer heat, female Pardosa spiders can sometimes be found in small groups, basking in the sun with their egg sacs. Like most wolf spiders, Pardosa sp. are active hunters, pouncing on prey and then mashing up with their chelicerae. So a few questions came to mind: are Pardosa spiders always this sociable, or just when carrying an egg sac? Do they still hunt when carrying an egg sac? Are they cannibalistic And why do they bask at all: could it be for thermoregulation, or perhaps to take advantage of UV rays to keep the egg sac bacteria free?
Time to Google!
Now for a cool set of co-incidences…
Googling “Pardosa life cycle Alberta” turns up a nice list of results, one of the first being: Life History of Pardosa Moesta and Pardosa mackenziana … - JStor.¹ You have to register at JStor to get this article free, or you can go directly to The Journal of Arachnology and get the pdf. Free research articles are always appreciated by this bug enthusiast, but this article is doubly appreciated because it is by Chris
Buggle² Buddle, the famed blogger over at Arthropod Ecology! And not only that, but that paper was written here in Alberta! (Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?). But it doesn’t end there…today’s post at Arthropod Ecology is about Canada’s extreme shortage of Arachnologists! Go figure! That post was so inspiring, that I almost ditched all my camera equipment to begin thumbing my way to McGill to sign up!
Alas, reality set in (my wife says I have to do my income tax today… sheesh!). However, there may be others out there, spider enthusiasts of younger youth, bigger brain and deliberate dedication, who may be wondering: “Is the life of an arachnologist for me?”
My suggestion? If you like spiders, and you like to ask questions, go read Chris’s post. Then go read his article to see how an arachnologist does his work. If that doesn’t inspire you towards a life in arachnology, I don’t know what will.
And as for me? I am going to read articles and work on the questions above and do a blog post on what I learn…unless, of course, someone volunteers to answer the questions in the comments below. You will be doing my readers a favor and it will give me time finish working on my beloved income tax…
¹ Life History of Pardosa Moesta and Pardosa mackenziana (Araneae, Lycosidae) in Central Alberta, Canada. Christopher M. Buddle Journal of Arachnology Vol. 28, No. 3 (2000), pp. 319-328 Published by: American Arachnological Society.
² Honest! That was a genuine mistake! My fingers must have been guided by the great bug totem spirit fairy…