Creepy wolf spider hatchlings seen in US Fish & Wildlife photo

Arachnophobes, please watch your step.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a creepy photo this week of a wolf spider matriarch carrying dozens of new hatchlings on her back over muddy ground.

Female wolf spiders carry their eggs in a silk sac beneath their bellies until they hatch – then the younglings hitch a ride on the mother’s back until they grow large enough to hunt on their own, according to the federal agency.

There are many species of wolf spiders around the globe, according to the World Spider Catalogue, and the larger ones can grow to between 1 and 1.5 inches in diameter – without counting the length of their legs, which can add more than 2 inches to their overall size.

The Carolina wolf spider, which South Carolina named its state spider in 2000, is the largest type of wolf spider found natively in North America and among the largest of the 2,200 species around the world, according to South Carolina State Parks.

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Wolf spiders are often mistaken for brown recluse spiders, according to the agency's website – but the dangerous brown recluse spiders do not grow to larger than a half an inch.

A wolf spider bite usually results in a minor itch for humans, but allergic reactions to their venom can potentially have far worse consequences, according to authorities.

Female wolf spiders carry their eggs in a silk sac beneath their bellies until they hatch – then the younglings hitch a ride on the mother’s back until they grow large enough to hunt on their own, according to the Wildlife Service. (Courtesy Megan Seymour/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Female wolf spiders carry their eggs in a silk sac beneath their bellies until they hatch – then the younglings hitch a ride on the mother’s back until they grow large enough to hunt on their own, according to the Wildlife Service. (Courtesy Megan Seymour/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Once mature, they are solitary predators that rely on camouflage and speed to run down prey rather than trap it in a web, and they have excellent nocturnal eyesight.

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Wolf spiders can live on average for up to a year, but sometimes 18 months, according to National Geographic. They mostly live on the ground and have adapted to many types of terrain around the planet.

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