Child Care Can Be a Burden

I’m up at the Niobrara Valley Preserve this week.  While collecting data today, we spotted a brood of sharp-tailed grouse, a couple other baby birds, and a whole bunch of cute red bison calves.  I got photos of all of those except the grouse (they’re really fast!).  I might post some of those cute baby photos later.  Tonight, though, I have just enough time to post a photo of the other babies I saw today.

Female wolf spiders are known for carrying their brood around on them until they’re big enough to go off on their own.  I watched this family for quite a while this evening.  It looked to me like mama was about done with this whole child care thing.  She mostly just stood still while her babies clung to her, or periodically scurried around, looking for a better place to hold on.  The only moving she did was to periodically wipe a few spiderlings off her face.  Her immobility made photography easier, but I felt pretty bad for her.

I’m guessing the spiderlings will be leaving soon.  In fact, a few of them made it up onto my camera while I was watching their mom.  I wish them success, but I also hope their mom gets to take a nice vacation, or at least enjoy a good grasshopper dinner after they leave.  It looks like she deserves it.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Child Care Can Be a Burden

  1. Paul Brewer says:

    Chris, if you zoom in close enough, I think you can see yourself in the eye of the spider!

  2. Robert Cox says:

    Dude. She’s 6 feet under. You KNOW this! Anyhow, I love the photograph. Never thought I’d see photographic evidence of that particular phenomenon.

  3. marknupen says:

    Amazing story and Photo!!

  4. Pingback: Photo of the Week – June 15, 2017 | The Prairie Ecologist

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