Savanna Wolf Spider

a wolf spider from near Mweiga, Nyeri, Kenya. Photo © by Michael Plagens

On dark soil with dead stems of grass bleached white in savanna habitat. Near Mweiga, Kenya. Dec. 2015. Length, not including legs, about 18 mm.

Wolf spiders have eight eyes at the anterior end of the cephalothorax, four of which are quite large. For sure these eyes are used during courtship displays and to avoid predation by birds and other insectivores. Their role in capturing prey is probably small. First these spiders are largely nocturnal hunters - they range over the soil surface at night without benefit of a web. The usual hunting method is to move a few centimeters and then stop. Highly sensitive vibration detectors on the legs will alert the now sit-and-wait predator to a crawling insect. Already through the vibration signature the wolf spider will have information about the size and locomotion of the potential prey (or foe). It the spot is quiet for an extended time the spider will move on to another spot and repeat. These behaviors can be readily observed if the ecologist employs a head light, because the eyes reflect back the light from the observer's light source.

Lycosidae -- Wolf Spider Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens. Page created 3 May 2016.