Spider update!

Bad news, everyone. Fred is dead. Betty ate him. I’m hoping he at least fulfilled his biological destiny before getting his guts sucked out.

More bad news: as I expected, baby spiders are murderous little cannibals, and there’s been a fair bit of fratricide going on, even though they had plenty of fruit flies strolling about. I’ve now separated them all and the survivors now have their own little chambers with their own little fruit fly to gnaw on.

I made a quick video update. Don’t watch it if you’ve got the arachnophobia.

Here’s a story about a lab that has a substantially greater investment in spider science than I do.


  1. hemidactylus says

    Well based on evidence at 1:40 onward spiders masturbate profusely. All those appendages and possibilities.

    I have no fear of most spiders, excepting widows and recluses. Love the cutesy jumping spiders and orbs. What are the ornate heavily armored ones that look like crabs? Those are beautiful.

    I think brown widows have encroached on my backyard and are plotting my demise. I saw orange belly spots and never looked back. The spots were transverse on grayish body spiders and not hourglass. May have misidentified. Didn’t feel brave enough to get up close and personal.

    Killed a very stout black spider with huge abdomen in my house not too long ago. It blanched before I could investigate the ventral abdomen.

    Most spiders I let live. Not that one. Fiddles are also sufficient for death sentence. Sorry.

  2. geshtin says

    I hope you have good luck with separating the slings into separate enclosures. I only have experience with tarantula babies (much longer lived so probably not comparable) but with them, separating into individual enclosures to make sure they don’t eat each other still didn’t really work: a lot died from mysterious reasons. In fact letting them eat each other and separating them still caused two different egg sacks to have roughly the same amount of spiders reach adulthood. I never did figure out why so many died – some stopped eating even pre-killed food, but some were eating fine and mysteriously went into a death curl anyway.

    Since we’re talking spiders, would PZ or others knowledgeable of evolution be ok with me asking a few difficult questions of spiders and their colours since I’m not sure aposematism and sexual selection can explain?

    #5: recluses and widows aren’t terribly aggressive and only tend to bite when e.g. caught inside clothing and can’t escape. Also, though they can have very serious bites, most bites aren’t all that bad. They have a lot more serious reputation than they should have. As for the crab-like spider, I think you might mean species of the Gasteracantha genus? They have some stunning ones. Or maybe Macracantha arcuata (only member of its genus)?

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 6 – I fear you’ve conflated Latin & Greek there.

    Though to my ear your alliterical “fratriphagy” sounds more euphonious than “fratrivory”…

  4. Gregory Greenwood says

    And the truth of these experiments becomes clear, courtesy of the Freudian slip in the form of a video thumbnail – PZ is plotting to give himself and/or his grand son spider powers, because this world very obviously needs a hero. Prudently, PZ has determined that it would probably be a good idea to work out the tendencies toward cannibalism before moving on to human trials…