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.