Stories from the life of The Kat™, part 1.
Here in the woods there are a lot of species of wildlife under an inch long.*
This is the story of one of them.
Back in the mid-90s when we were here only in the summer and weekends, I decided to prune the dead branches out of the spreading junipers in the front yard. Junipers are prickly suckers, so I wore heavy gloves and tried not to touch them any more than necessary. To this last end, I threw all the pruned branches onto a large sheet of cardboard so I could drag them away all at once.
After pruning for awhile, I stopped to rest and to admire my pile of branches. It was at this point that I noticed a good-sized spider (about 1" long) with an astonishingly hairy abdomen walking across the cardboard. I looked closer and poked it with my pruners.
Imagine my amazement when the hairiness of her abdomen turned out to be about a hundred baby spiders, which jumped off and ran in all directions. I immediately summoned the family to witness this wonder of nature.
Googling today taught me that this was a wolf spider, the only spider in the world that carries its babies in that manner.
This is pretty much what I saw, but in focus, without the smoosh, and without the reflections of the babies eyes.
A number of years later, I took this photo, which is probably the most stunning image I have ever captured.
Wolf spiders are also the only ones that carry their unborn/unhatched babies around in an egg sac. Like all spiders, they are venomous, but not unduly so, plus they will only bite if continually provoked. They are generally considered to be beneficial because they eat other arachnids.
And that is all you ever wanted to know about wolf spiders.
* More on this in another post.