Update on the spider soap opera (no photos)

Yeesh, but a lot of people send me piteous complaints if I post a photo of my little spider friends, so from now on I’ll either confine them below the fold, or as in this case, not have any photographs at all. I still want to give an occasional status, though.

So my tiny colony currently consists of four females and one male spider.

As I last mentioned, Sara is expecting — she was impregnated by some unknown wild male before I brought her into the lab. She’s got a voracious appetite and has sucked two crickets dry in the last 5 days.

Amanda has also been eating well. Last time, I introduced her to our one male, Harry, who was not at all subtle and jumped right on her. She didn’t seem to mind, since Harry survived the encounter.

Since Harry was so eager, I moved him to Emma‘s vial. He’s still there, still alive, but kind of curled up and looking exhausted. Emma is looking great, and was smacking her chelicerae over a fresh cricket corpse.

Xena — poor Xena, I’ve been worried about her. She doesn’t eat. There’s a juicy cricket wandering about in her vial, taunting her, and she does nothing. But today Xena made an egg sac! I guess she had her priorities.

The Nameless Swarm of spiderlings seem to be doing well. I throw a few fruit flies into their dish, and a few hours later they’re all dead. I’m going to have to clean up the charnel chaos of their home tomorrow — it’s littered with the dessicated husks of their victims. The babies are so cute.

So that’s 5 adults and three egg sacs in less than two weeks, and an uncountable horde of spiderlings. That’s a pretty good volume of animals spawned fairly quickly, which is good news for my interest in getting embryos.

I’m optimistic that I’ll have a reliably propagating colony soon, if mortality isn’t too high among the spiderlings (I’ve read that there is a lot of death to come, but there are so many I’m hoping I’ll get plenty surviving to adulthood).

I’m impressed at how easy these are to raise, so far. You ought to try it!


  1. davidc1 says

    Having reread your post,i think you are well on the way to becoming a mad Scientist .
    It is a good job you don’t have access to Nuclear power ,there would be giant spiders
    roaming across Minnesota .

  2. weylguy says

    “confine them below the fold…”

    That’s right where spiders end up in my house, although “confine” is a bit too tame.

  3. says

    I’m not going to presume to tell you what to do in your own lab, but have you considered spiders as a response to all those people who keep hassling you about the newspapers? You could demonstrate your virtues . . . you know, show them what you’re made of . . . show them ALL!

  4. chris says

    I love spiders. Whenever one decides to hang out near on a wall near a ceiling I name it “Fred” and let it go about its business. I love watching them in the garden. I am also amused about this time of year when the large house spiders going scurrying by as they look for mates. I recently found a dead one under a plate in the sink as I was cleaning up… well that one had a very bad day.

    This weekend during a holiday gathering of old college friends I had a delightful conversation with one of their offspring: a college biology student. She spent a bit of time in the very large edible garden with a net trying to collect other insects with a net and container (she preserves them). I learned not only is the college experience still includes issues with roommates, that she has two pet snakes and three pet tarantulas (one part of the issue with roommates). She also works in a pet store, and apparently is one employee that will actually know what new pet owners can expect!

    Dr. Myers, I can see why you have enthusiasm for your young students. Plus I love the posts about your spiders. I am rooting for poor exhausted Harry.

  5. monad says

    It’s frustrating to me that spiders somehow need to be kept out of view, even though they are a perfectly ordinary part of the world around us, while so much else can go without warning – fellow arthropods like caterpillars, eldritch creatures like Cthulhu, genuinely upsetting things like MRA memes and Tomi Lahren. What did they ever do to warrant such special dislike in our culture?

  6. neptis says

    Yeah, what #7 says. Didn’t expect those “Yuck, spiders” responses on this blog, since you post a lot of cephalopods and other animals outside the kitten-puppy-hamster range. Not sure how much of those negative responses is genuine phobia and how much is an exaggerated cultural thing, but I think it sucks that you have to hide them.
    Oh, and about Xena: You are probably aware of that, but don’t leave any uneaten crickets in for too long. Those little guys will eat anything really, so I fear for the egg sac.

  7. marinerachel says

    Well, that’s annoying. Don’t visit blogs on which invertebrates are regularly discussed if you hate spiders, maybe?

    These spiders are helping me get into the fall mood! All ready for Halloween. :)

  8. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Count me as another reader who thinks spiders are REALLY cool. I’m one of those guys who tries to rescue them from the cats, from the sinks… After mantids, they are probably my favorite arthropod predators, and spiders have way cooler eyes.

    A question though? How do you not have a spider named Boris?

  9. Ichthyic says

    I do have a few mutagenic chemicals, however…

    spiderfish, spiderfish,
    does whatever a spiderfish does…

  10. davidc1 says

    I detect a lot of hate towards those of us who are scared of spiders ,i agree that they are interesting ,but a seeing a photo of one is a bit stressful when you are not expecting it .

    I do have a few mutagenic chemicals, however…
    I bet you do .

  11. says

    I don’t hate arachnophobes — I can understand how some people have a visceral reaction. I’m not going to exclude photos of my babies, but I’ll give plenty of warning and not post them so they appear at the top of the page.

  12. says

    I’m finding this discussion interesting. I’m all for trigger warnings when it comes to people who have experienced trauma, but I admit I had a “Seriously?!?” reaction to tiptoeing around phobias and I can see I’m not the only one. I wonder how much of it is context – it’s been pointed out that PZ is a biologist who has posted all sorts of related images before – and how much of it is that generally speaking someone with trauma is a victim but a phobic person isn’t necessarily one.

    Then there is how wide ranging phobias are. Spiders are a common one, but I once knew someone who is terrified of birds. One of arguments I hate seeing from homophobes and transphobes are based around numbers. What, just because they’re a small minority it’s okay to treat them like shit and disregard their feelings?

    Okay, that last part convinced me that my own reaction to the warnings is unreasonable and this is a fine accommodation.

  13. says

    It seems to me that being considerate of some people’s discomfort (and/or terror) is a good thing. Especially when that consideration is so easily done. Much like pronouns.

    I am also a big fan of spiders, in general, and these posts specifically. raises one eyebrow Fascinating.

  14. monad says

    @17: Warnings are often reasonable, but I’m not sure this is an example of worrying about small minorities. I’ve talked to someone with a phobia of dogs, and suffice to say the internet couldn’t care less about warnings for them. It’s an uncommon enough problem that everyone just expects them to figure it out on their own, and they are left to struggle through it. In my experience even dizzying heights usually don’t get warnings.

    Meanwhile people who don’t like seeing spiders get accommodated precisely because there are a lot more of them. And maybe that’s fair. After all, you try to accommodate who you can. We go out of our way to label things for people allergic to peanuts and milk, but someone allergic to something like say radishes will have to stick to ingredient lists.

    But then that kind of “whoa, these specific animals need warnings” may also end up feeding into why so many end up scared of them. And sometimes that kind of treatment matters. Shark conservation is really hindered by how sharks are made out to some uniquely terrifying fish, to the point where there are no few people who hope they will go extinct.

    I don’t like the idea of going out of our way to frighten, and pretending people who have a serious concern can just suck it up, but are we sure there aren’t consequences for making spiders into some kind of special monsters too?

  15. davidc1 says

    That’s a good point: how can you object to spiders and not yak up with even more vehemence at photos of Tomi Lahren?
    I didn’t wake up one morning and find Tomi Lahren on my pillow that’s why .

  16. geshtin says

    I love spiders! I have a dozen tarantulas as pets and I would be very happy to see you post pictures of your spider project. If it can be done so that the pics are visible below the fold or something so that arachnophobes don’t have to suffer, that would be great.

  17. says

    I was thinking about this recently because we were posting spiders on Affinity without warnings and on front page for years with no complaints. Now that the issue was brought up, we put them bellow the fold and with content warning. It is slight hassle, but why not, if it spares someone from unnecessary unpleasantness.

    However we post also pictures of all kinds of creatures and there is nigh statistical certainty that for every creature out there ther will be someone somewhere who will have phobia with regard to it.

    If we tried to accomodate all potential readers with phobias, we would have to put content warning on every single post and put every single picture bellow the fold. That is evidently ridiculous.

    So, why draw line at spiders, but not birds?

    Well, one is not like the other. Spiders are rare enough occurence on our blog for even regular readers not to automatically expect their pictures. This last week was an exception, not the rule. Secondly, arachnophobia to some degree is relatively common, even people who are not exactly “phobic” (like me) have quite often uneasy feeling when confronted with a spider unexpectedly.

    On the other hand, bird pictures were and continue to be regular feature on the blog. So any potential ornithophobe in all probability either steers away from it anyway or at least they automatically expect an encounter with a bird picture and are prepared. This compounds with the fact that ornithophobia is quite rare.

    That is my reasoning. Should there somewhere be a blog that has a history of posting “Daily Spider” pictures and has developed followers who love spiders, I would not expect them to post content warnings to spider pictures. It would be patently silly. But maybe if some of their arachnologists readers were ornithophobic and they deciced on occasion post a picture of a parrot, they would consider posting it with a warning for their reader’s sake.

    tldr: context matters. I think.

  18. marinerachel says


    If people slapped a content warning on everything that contained a picture of a moth, my life would be less stressful. No one’s going to do that for me though. I mean, other than close friends. They all know I’m fucking terrified of the stupid things and will hide in a corner and sob if I know one’s in the house. Those close to me cater to my sensitivities re: moths. The general public, nah.

    Sometimes I look at pictures of moths until the anxiety becomes unbearable. It never takes long. They’re so disgusting.

  19. methuseus says

    I’m among those who can be very creeped out by pictures of spiders. Warnings help, but I still get creeped out. I can’t even watch those Lucas the cute spider videos because I get the heebie-jeebies.

    I don’t expect you to make concessions to me. I might be more careful what I click on for Pharyngula, but it’s not going to drive me away.

    All that said, I love what spiders do, and appreciate that they kill nuisance bugs. I just have that visceral reaction to them.

  20. davidc1 says

    @25 I agree ,it is mainly the House spiders i hate ,the ones that come inside in the late summer .
    There is a species of spider i don’t mind ,i leave it in peace if it makes a web .And the little Zebra jumping spiders i like them .