Q: Can you tell the difference between male and female wolf spiders?

A:  Spiders are predators, feeding primarily on insects and other arthropods. Although the exact details of the feeding strategies for spiders vary, all spiders predigest their prey by injecting or covering the prey item with digestive fluids, after which they consume the liquefied meal. Spiders can survive for long periods of time without feeding. Some spiders have been kept alive for over two years without feeding.

Because spiders feed entirely on living insects or other animals, they are highly adapted to capture and subdue living prey. Some, such as jumping spiders or wolf spiders actively search for or stalk their prey.

Mature male wolf spiders have enlarged or swollen pedipalps, or palps, at the front of its body. These are located at the front of the body near their head. These enlarged structures will contain sperm to be transferred to the female’s abdomen at the time of mating. The males die right after mating but I am told they die happy (sorry, I could not resist).

Females also have pedipalps but they will not be swollen at the tips. Female wolf spiders carry their egg-sacs on their abdomens.  When the spiderlings hatch, the adult female may carry them for a week or two. There may be hundreds of these spiderlings. Female wolf spiders can live as long as five years.

Anytime you are bitten by an insect or animal and the area does not heal well, turns red and/or becomes swollen please contact your doctor for care.  Any bite can potentially contain bacteria and develop into an infection.  It is better to be safe than sorry. This is a University of Florida publication on common Florida spiders:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg206