Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Rosie vs. Jiminy

I spotted a little green cricket hopping about the flowerbed while Rachel and I were taking the garbage out this afternoon, so I caught it. We decided to feed it to our new pet wolf spider, who now goes by the name Rosie (since Rosie is Miriam's favourite name) because the girls would like to keep the wolf spider until her egg sac hatches. This means we have to keep Rosie adequately fed.

Fortunately you can tell how hungry a spider is by the size of the abdomen. Hungry spiders have a skinny abdomen. Full spiders have a full abdomen. By this morning Rosie was looking hungry. She was very grateful for the cricket we dropped into her jar—Jiminy!—and snatched him up immediately. She was so quick she snapped off one of his legs in her hurry to consume him.

It was fascinating to watch, but also, in the words of Rachel, "chilling."

She grasped it with her pedipalps (the antenna/arms/sexual organs of spiders) and commenced liquifying and sucking out its juices immediately.

She's a pretty slow eater, Rachel noted, but now she's all done and all that remains is that leg that fell off and the exoskeleton, which is still clutched in Rosie's jaw. We'll have to keep looking for things to feed her; fortunately we've got a whole lot of bugs around here so that shouldn't be too difficult.

I've been doing a bit of research on wolf spiders. It looks like we should have babies within a month (9–27 days). Our egg sac is already a gnarly grey colour, which means those little spiderlings are getting ripe.

I'm almost positive that what we have is Hogna carolinensis, the largest species of wolf spider found in North America. According to Wikipedia, "the undersides of the cephalothax and the abdomen are both solid black," so I checked and it seems like they are. We'll say Rosie's an H. carolinensis until we find out otherwise. Since 2000 it's been the state spider of South Carolina, but not many other states seem to have claimed any other spider as a symbol.

The funniest part of our spider-feeding conversation was when Andrew remarked how quickly the spider had managed to snatch up the cricket.

"That's how they catch frogs!" Andrew said.

"Wolf spiders eat frogs?" Rachel asked. "Yuck!" Then she concluded, "Wolf spiders eat jumping things."

Andrew explained that that wasn't necessarily the most logical thing to conclude from our conversation ("they eat small things that just happen to jump") but I'm not sure Rachel was convinced.

Even though our new pet is slightly horrifying, Rachel is excited to have a pet at all.

Maybe we'll have some fun with Rosie after dark. Apparently wolf spider eyes will glow if you shine a light on them in the dark (because they have tapetum lucidum, or eyeshine, like many nocturnal predators). Perhaps we'll even try to put her in a bigger container. But that involves opening the lid and I'm not a fan of opening the lid...


  1. Your blog is so educational! I enjoyed the update on Rosie. It's ever-so-cute that Miriam's favorite name was used on a spider. :)

  2. I'm really starting to hate these post! Spiders give me the creeps! Nothing like seeing a huge wolf spider run across your living room floor...eek! One time Jason grabbed this huge bumpy spider in a paper towel. When he opened the paper towel to get a better look at the bumps he screamed..."Babies!" Yup they were all over her back and they were jumping ship! I don't even like squishing them. How many times do you step on them and then move your foot and they are scurrying away. Ahhh! I've been known to vacuum them up to avoid having to touch them at all. I intend to boycott this blog until I don't have to look at any more pictures of Rosie ;)

  3. You are a brave, brave woman. I'm all for teaching kids things, but I'm not sure I'll be able to do this particular lesson, and I think Blake hates spiders even more than I do!