It's a Wolf Spider, a very big Wolf Spider.
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Well I said I was done with spiders last week but darn if the next day I didn't see this awesome beauty. It was hard to miss as it scooted out from under my shower stall when I was blowing leaves around.
Here's a photo from a few feet away as I struggled to get my iPhone out and ready to shoot before it zipped away. Next to the 8" Southern Magnolia leaves it doesn't look all that big in this photo. As a nod to those who really do not like spiders, close-ups and more information about this tremendous Wolf Spider are down below the fold.
I figured this was a wolf spider (Lycosidae family) but way bigger than any I had seen before, and the color was much darker, not the usual light brown. I knew I was going to need better photos if I had any chance of identification. You would have laughed to see me chasing after it. I step forward and bend over, it scoots away, another step, off it goes, repeat... Finally it stopped. Maybe it realized I meant no harm; maybe it thought it blended in; or maybe, since they are sensitive to vibrations, I quit making so much noise.
In the shade this spider was camouflaged, in the morning sun not so much. Bending down to within a foot with my phone, I got my photos and then left it alone to find a safe spot. Since most wolf spiders hide during the day and hunt for prey at night, I was lucky to have found it.
So photos taken, it's off to Bug Guide to suss it out. 30 minutes later I had it narrowed down to 2 species in the genera Hogna or Tigrosa. I was right on both, sorta. The Giant or Carolina Wolf Spider (Hogna carolinensis) seemed like a winner just by the name, and it is common in the Southeast. But viewing other photos, this one was not as colorful and did not have the stripes on the legs like my spider.
Bug Guide has this description for the genus Tigrosa.
The name is derived from the tiger because of the fierce nature of the species and in recognition of the stripes on the dorsal surface of the body and contrasting dark and light markings on the legs of most species. According to Don Cameron (2005) the genus (ed. family) name Lycosa means "fierce like a wolf"; therefore, Tigrosa can be freely translated as "fierce like a tiger."
I glossed over the fierce part, thankful I did not try to flip it over for the ventral view like BG suggested for spider ID, but the striped legs sure make it tiger-like.
This one seemed most likely - Tigrosa georgicola
Size: Body length of females 16-22mm; males 10-17mm.
Range: Widely distributed in the southeastern USA.
Habitat: Often found in deciduous woods, under logs during the day and hunting over leaf litter at night.
Previously placed in the genus Allocosa (by mistake); subsequently referred to as Hogna georgicola by many people up until Brady's 2012 revision transferred it to the genus Tigrosa.
Size: check, mine was around an inch altho it looked bigger.
Range: yup, southeast
Habitat: got it, in the woods and lots of leaf litter.
If you would like a more technical, scientific description, try this.
T. georgicola - venter of abdomen with three central dark stripes originating at the epigastric furrow and converging at base of spinnerets (much darker-looking than T. helluo); median stripe on carapace extends from the eye region all the way across to the posterior declivity; sometimes with 3 dark bands on dorsal surfaces of femora III and IV.
I think I understand half of that but give me the pictures please. Anyways, once I had the name I looked to other websites for confirmation. This one called Florida Nature
is great; photos and descriptions of fungi, animals and plants, mostly of Tallahassee & FL Panhandle.
The page on Hogna georgicola
(from 2005, thus the old name which I now knew about) shows a female with egg case.
I did read that Wolf spiders may eat frogs and toads but I'm not really sure of that. I only found one general reference so if anyone knows better, please share. This little toad, hopping around in the same area, is certainly smaller than my spider, barely the size of a small acorn cap.
Speaking of acorns, I sweep dozens off my deck everyday as they drop from the big overhanging Live Oak. A great year for hickories too; already the squirrels are moving in. They'd be OK if they stayed in the woods and off my deck. That rail is not your eating station, you never clean up, and you have no right to bark at me! Humph!
By the way, the Golden Silk Orbweaver from last week is gone, disappeared a few days ago. The web is still there. The tiny iridescent Orchard Orbweavers that like to build their webs off that web are still there too. I'm hoping she laid her eggs in the crack of a nearby tree before ending her excellent summer of hanging out and entertaining me.
I'll set this bucket to publish around 9 but will not be home till after noon. Volunteer work day pulling privets again, right across the GA border from here at Wolf Creek Preserve. Wonder if there are Wolf Spiders at Wolf Creek?
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