It is with great pleasure that I hereby present to you my scientific treatise on the roaming habits, reproductive cycle and life span of the North American Wolf Spider (Rabidosa rabida) that was living behind my bookshelf last Tuesday – until he met his untimely demise.
Many people believe that spiders should be classified as enemy combatants or viewed as agents representing a foreign “Axis of Evil” (which is quite fortunate because I hear the U.S. is looking for a new one), but Wolf Spiders are quite harmless to humans.
According to Wikipedia (the only website discriminating scientists choose to trust), Wolf Spiders wander from place to place, all alone, preferring not to keep a permanent home due to the high cost of upkeep as well as the possibility of foreclosure. Some build burrows complete with trap doors, but those are the across-town “rich” cousins who can send all 800 of their offspring to private school without blinking any of their eight eyes.
Wolf Spiders are said to be “robust and agile hunters,” preferring to roam in pastures and fields, pouncing on harmful insects, eating them piece by piece, then paying the bill without forgetting to leave a 13 percent tip. Even if they do scoff at government regulations (like hunting without a license, refusing to attend hunter safety courses or wearing little orange vests), I have no qualms about them being out in those fields eating little nasty insects. They are doing a job we Americans (and even illegal aliens) wouldn’t stoop to do – and I say, “God bless them, each and every one.”
But a scientific treatise is no place for quoting Tiny Tim. So let’s continue.
Again, according to Wikipedia (that bastion of arachnid information), Wolf Spiders carry their eggs in sacs under their belly, and continue to hunt without ever complaining of morning sickness or back pains. When the spiderlings emerge from their egg sac, they climb up their mother’s legs to her abdomen where they hang on for dear life (which gives me the willies just thinking about it). When old enough, the spiderlings disperse through the air – scattering hither and thither – to start their own lives.
(Since this particular Wolf Spider was without egg sac, we can assume either he was male or she was female and had already “dispersed” her children all over my house. And if that be the case, I beg of you not to mention it to the female humans who abide with me. Thank you very much!)
The Wolf Spider that inhabited my home was fairly intelligent due to the fact he chose to hide behind a bookcase full of volumes written by Poe, Dickens, and Twain. Why he decided to venture across open floor to the bookcase which held Foxworthy, Benchley and Carlin, we may never know. But he did, and in so doing, risked being seen, which he was.
A Wolf Spider can move about its environment quite stealthily, but when they are discovered, they are very easy to track – especially if you follow the high-pitched screaming of little voices yelling things like, “It’s over here, kill it,” and “I’m not going to kill it, YOU kill it,” and “Daddy! Don’t just look at it! Kill it NOW!”
The spider I encountered could be described as brown in color, looking apprehensive in a McGyver (I’m gonna get out of here using this toothpick and dental floss) sort of way, and not as small as Charlotte the Spider but big enough to evoke an “Oh My Word! It’s a Monster! Run over it with the car” kind of response.
Which brings us to our next question: What is the average lifespan of a Wolf Spider?
No one really knows how long a Wolf Spider can live in his natural environment, but the average lifespan of a Wolf Spider found residing behind a bookcase in my house is in direct correlation with the amount of perceived threat a human believes he or she is in. I, myself, did not perceive a threat from this fine specimen of spider. I did, however, perceive abundant threats from other members of my household, declaring they would inflict bodily damage to my person if I didn’t “squash that beast to pieces!”
Reverting to survival instincts, I took careful aim, begged forgiveness for what I was about to do, and slammed my 10-inch steel-toed work boot upon his cephalothorax (head) and opisthosoma (guts).
I must say, he splattered quite nicely.