You know how when you start one chore, but end up doing something else completely?
That was me this morning. I started out clearing an enormous patch of a pretty flowers that quickly turn to bothersome burrs called by many names. The funnest one is Beggars Lice. The other two names are Showy Trefoil and Stick Tights.
I gathered up an entire 33 gallon trash can full of them and headed toward the burn pile. On my way, I spotted an area of overgrown spearmint (big surprise--not). I stooped over to start pulling mint and came upon a wolf spider. Upon closer inspection, I found that she was carrying a back full of baby spiders. According to my research, there are as many as 200 spiderlings on her back.
The first time I witnessed this was many years ago in Houston. I had gathered up a spider in a cup to take it outside. Within a moment, my cup was crawling with ensy weensy spiders. I was so surprised that I dropped the cup and watched helplessly as the miniature spiders made their way across my kitchen floor.
If you know me at all, you know I felt horrible that I had caused mother and babies to be separated. She scrambled under the table and I just left her there. Within an hour, many if not most, of her babies were back on board. This time, I just opened the sliding glass door and scootched her outside with an envelope.
While Wolf spiders can bite, they'd really rather not. They are fabulous predators to have in the garden. The female carries her egg sac around with her back legs until they hatch. The spiderlings crawl up on her back for a little protective mothering for about a week. After that, they're on their own. The Wolf spider and the Nursery Web Spider (aka Fishing Spider) are the only two of their kind to protect their young once they are hatched. I can't find any evidence that they feed their young in any way. Just a bit of protection until they can fend for themselves.