December 21, 2020
Ben is taking a well-deserved holiday vacation, so we're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update! The following post was originally published on April 27, 2020.
I realize that a lot of folks don't like spiders, especially enormous spiders presented in close-up photos that highlight every fuzzy leg and beady eye. But like them or not, spiders are fascinating creatures and are well worth examining!
According to VMNH Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology Dr. Kal Ivanov, this is likely a female Tigrosa georgicola, which is a commonly encountered wolf spider here in Virginia. Wolf spiders are some of the largest spiders you can find in the Commonwealth, rivalled only by Dolomedes tenebrosus, the dark fishing spider, and Argiope aurantia, the black and yellow garden spider. This particular wolf spider was certainly one of the largest I've ever seen.
Wolf spiders are generally nocturnal predators. The scurry over the leaf litter in the woods at night searching for prey, and they hide during the day (I found this one under a rotten log). If you ever want to spot some wolf spiders at night, it's actually pretty easy; just grab a flashlight, hold it at eye-level, and shine it across your yard. Spider eyes reflect the light, so if you see any little green pinpricks of light in your yard, you've found yourself a wolf spider.
If you do spot a wolf spider, it's best to just quietly observe while it hunts for delicious bugs. Wolf spiders just want to be left alone, and if they're manhandled, there's always a chance of getting bitten. While the bite can be painful, it won't cause any significant problems.
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends and the week of December 21 - 25.
NEW: TRIVIA CHALLENGE
You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!