For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Common Rain Spider (Palystes superciliosus) Sparassidae

I found this smallish Wolf Spider which had unfortunatley fallen into a drain full of Jeyes Fluid and the poor things was dying. I would like to have one as a pet but I so seldom find any. He was about 2-3 inches in length.
The Lycosidae or wolf spiders, as they are commonly called, are often seen dashing from under the grass trying to escape the lawn mower or doing freestyle in the pool. The family name and common name are derived from the Greek word "lycosa" meaning "wolf" due to the spiders' hunting method of ambushing and running down its prey. Research has shown that the Lycosidae are important in agriculture, as they are efficient controlling agents of insect pests. They are harmless to man.
Lycosids are often parasitised by wasps probably because they are free roaming and do not enjoy the protection of a web. The wasps will parasitise them in one of two ways. Depending on the wasp species, the spider will either be stung and immobilized, stocked into a prepared nest, have an egg laid on it and then sealed into the nest, there may be one or . The wasp larva then hatches and consumes its live prey that eventually dies as the larva pupates. Secondly, a female wasp will immobilize the spider and lay the egg directly onto it. The spider continues living a normal life with the wasp larva feeding on it until the spider becomes too weak and dies. This coincides with the maturation of the wasp larva that then pupates later to emerge as the adult wasp.

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