Wolf Spider - Immature spider Ballooning
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Ballooning Wolf Spider

Photo Details
October 17, 2005, Antelope Island Causeway, Davis County, Utah - ©Nicky Davis

Family tree
Family: Lycosidae, Genus: unknown, Species: unknown

These spider have eight dark eyes of unequal size arranged in three rows, the first having four eyes. The abdomen and the cephalothorax are usually as long as wide. The long legs have three microscopic claws at each tip.

" Spiders (juveniles of most species, as well as adults of small species) can travel great distances by a remarkable form of flight called ballooning. Ballooning helps spiders to avoid over-crowding and competition for food. Spiderlings climb to the highest point they can find. They tilt their abdomen and spinnerets upward as they release silk. The strand of silk lengthens and is picked up by the breeze and the spiderlings are pulled upward and travel to a new location on their long threads of lightweight silk. (Seeing the ultra-thin threads requires having the light hit them at a particular angle.) Sometimes they even fly hundreds of miles. Spiders have been captured in special traps pulled by small planes thousands of feet up in the air and are often the first animals to arrive in a disturbed habitat (recently plowed field, burned area). For example, spiders began to colonize the slopes of Mt. St. Helens only months after the volcanic ash cooled. http://citybugs.tamu.edu/FastSheets/images/spider-ballooning.gif As all of the mite parasites of spiders I've seen are red (e.g., http://spiders.entomology.wisc.edu/pred_para/mites/index.html ) the white objects may well be larval stages of a parasitic insect (fly or wasp) (e.g., when a fly larva is fully developed http://spiders.entomology.wisc.edu/pred_para/ectoparasite/index.html"   (J.R.)