Pardosa Party

7 May 2021

If you are walking through a grassland or along a wetland edge at this time of year, a careful study of the ground immediately in front of you will reveal many spiders running along the ground, darting in and out of the matted grass from last year as they flee before you. In my experience, most of these will be wolf spiders and the predominant genus represented in this fauna will be the genus Pardosa which are commonly called the Thin-legged Wolf Spiders.

I would consider members of this genus to be the smaller of the medium-sized wolf spiders. Wolf spiders in Pirata and Piratula are really the only ones smaller. As their common name implies, they have thin legs, often with erect spines on them. Their coloration is typically a combination of gray, brown and black. Males are often more strikingly patterned than females and have the swollen pedipalps typical of male spiders. There are a few males that are relatively distinctive (P. hyperborea, P. saxatilis), but very few females (P. distincta).

There are 16 species of Pardosa that are known to occur in Minnesota and an additional 4 species that may occur but for which there are no records yet (yet!). Unfortunately, many of these spiders seem to overlap in their habitat preferences and are very similar in appearance. It is common for me to offer only Pardosa as my best identification on iNaturalist. Three of the species I commonly encounter even got alliterative names which crosses me up even more. I refer to them as the 3Ms (P. milvina, P. moesta, P. modica). Distinguishing them from one another often requires microscopic examination of reproductive structures which isn't for everyone.

I hope this doesn't dissuade you from taking pictures of these spiders. They are subtle beauties and definitely represent challenging photography subjects since they are fast movers. Many rely on their cryptic coloration to hide and may run a short distance and then freeze. That will be your chance to snap a picture or two before they run off again.

Happy spidering in the month of May!

Lähettänyt cheins1 cheins1, 7. toukokuuta 2021 13:25


This is great info! Thanks for putting it out there. I've seen tons of these over the last week or so. Glad to know more about what I'm seeing.

Lähettänyt andybirkey yli 1 vuosi sitten (Lippu)


Lähettänyt centrepullball yli 1 vuosi sitten (Lippu)

I couldn't have said it better than Andy! Thanks for it interesting info and photo challenge!

Lähettänyt figaro yli 1 vuosi sitten (Lippu)

Thanks! Was very excited to see this, and realized it was you who helped narrow down my photo on iNaturalist.

Lähettänyt anthony_simons 8 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)

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