24 April 2010

Western Rough Wolf Spider - Venator immansueta

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Western Rough Wolf Spider - Venator immansueta

Venator immansueta is a member of Lycosidae, the Wolf Spider family and was known as Lycosa immansueta. In spring it is a very common ground dwelling spider of the Esperance district and large numbers of juveniles can be seen at night by the reflexion of their eyes when a light is shone on them. However these numbers greatly reduce through predatory pressures and other factors, leaving only a tiny fraction (now adult) by autumn.

The Western Rough Wolf Spider is not a particularly large species with the larger bodied females (top two photos, bottom two are male) being between 1-2 cm (little over 1/2”) in length excluding legs, even including the legs the overall length is no more than 5 cm (2”), so not a very scary spider even for arachnophobes. When spotted by the bright reflexion of their eyes, they mostly remain motionless relying on blending into their surroundings, which they do very well. They are not at all aggressive and if provoked will usually dash away to denser vegetation to seek better cover.

Venator immansueta is a very widespread species, occurring in the southern part of Western Australia, also in South Australia and around semi-coastal areas to North Queensland, but presumably there it has a different common name. The typical eye arrangement of Wolf Spiders is 4 forward facing small eyes, below 2 large ones, with another 2 large ones further back, one on each side, so they can usually be spotlighted regardless of the direction they are facing. Lycosidae currently has 23 genera and around 150 species and is currently undergoing review that will possibly involve this species.

My thanks to the WA Museum for identification.

Update March 2011
This species has been moved from the Hogna genus to Venator and is now known as Venator immansueta.