A single female spider produces dozens of offspring in a single mating season. These offspring come from eggs, which spiders store in egg sacs. Most spiders keep egg sacs safely in the fabric of their webs, though some spiders transport eggs and egg sacs for various reasons. Wolf spiders, known to carry their babies on their backs, live throughout the United States, including North Carolina.
Various species of wolf spiders belonging to the Lycosa genus live throughout the United States. These large spiders reach mature lengths of 1/2 to 2 inches and have hairy bodies and especially large eyes. Wolf spiders have the distinctive habit of carrying their eggs on their backs. Individual eggs fit between the hairs on a female wolf spider's back and hindquarter. A female spider can carry more than 100 eggs at once. After hatching, baby spiders remain on their mother for a few weeks before dispersing in search of food. Baby wolf spiders look like miniature versions of adult wolf spiders.
Wolf Spider Habits
Wolf spiders do not create webs. They live in natural hollows and dugouts that serve as dens and actively hunt prey rather than waiting for prey to come to them, as most spiders do. Wolf spiders often move from one location to another while hunting. Because wolf spiders move regularly and don't make webs, they have no place to store their young and therefore must carry them.
Wolf spiders spend the winter indoors and thus often enter homes during the fall as temperatures begin declining significantly.
More Information on Wolf Spiders
Wolf spiders commonly inhabit areas around homes --- both because they preferring wintering indoors and because their primary sources of food live in gardens and lawns. Wolf spiders feed on insects such as grasshoppers, crickets and ants, as well as other spiders. They also commonly consume garden pests such as aphids, cockroaches, Japanese beetles and scale insects.
Despite their fierce appearance, wolf spiders don't commonly bite humans, and even when they do, their bites prove no more damaging than a bee sting, as they lack potent venom. Experts such as entomologist Barb Ogg of the University of Nebraska consider wolf spiders beneficial to humans for their eating habits.
Other Spiders That Carry Egg Sacs
Wolf spiders are not the only spiders that carry their egg sacs, though they do constitute the only known spider in North Carolina to carry their young on their backs. Nursery web spiders and fishing spiders, both large arachnids that resemble wolf spiders, carry egg sacs but do so underneath their bodies, close to their abdomens. These spiders belong to the pisauridae family. Cellar spiders, which, as the name implies, commonly live in basements, also carry their egg sacs, though with their mouths rather than on their backs.
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