Garden Bits / Main Index / previous / next

Very Big Spiders

by Valerie (May 14, 2000)
revised August 12, 2003
wolf spider on live oak trunkAlthough there are many kinds of spiders in our yard, one species certainly stands out. The main reason is because its body alone is about an inch long and when its legs are spread out, it could cover your palm. It is a type of wolf spider (Rhabidosa rabida), of which there are many species, and they are fairly common. I don't see them quite as often as smaller wolf spiders, and they are easy to avoid because they are so obvious. Although capable of delivering a bite, they are not considered poisonous.

I'm not particularly fond of spiders because they are one of the few creatures to who's bite I have a slight allergic reaction. Since the summers are so hot, I often work in the yard wearing shorts and even barefoot, kneeling or sitting in the grass. Usually, I receive bites on an ankle or knee and never feel much when I get bit. However, later, the two little fang marks turn red and itch pretty badly, sometimes being a nuisance for several days. I'm sure I've never been bit by any very large arachnid, but the smaller ones do get my attention.

Even though I don't want to touch them, spiders are great photography subjects and I enjoy feeding those that make webs by throwing small crickets or ants to them. The stripes on the wolf spider help camouflage it in the grass or against leaves and bark on the ground so they don't run away when they are discovered, relying instead on relative invisibility to fool predators, therefore letting me get quite close to take their picture. I can also appreciate the pest control aspect of having a healthy population of spiders around, since there are not too many other predators capable of running down the huge cockroaches we have in this area.

wolf spider in St. Augustine grass

Garden Bits / Main Index / previous / next