Betty was HUNGRY!

It’s October. That means I’ve got free rein to post horrifying spider videos, right?

I’ve got a feeding schedule for my colony, so every Monday and Thursday I open up the incubator and fling a bunch of living, walking, wingless Drosophila into every spider tube.

Today is Monday.

Now usually, the spiders sit unperturbed by the intrusion of insects into their domain, and they’ll just watch and wait, and the next day I find the withered corpses of their prey in their webs. Today, I guess Betty was hungry, because she leapt unto one of the hapless flies within seconds of it landing on the web. She was so fast she had it trussed like a Christmas turkey before I could get her under a camera.

I got a bit of the aftermath in a video, at least. It’s below the fold. It’s probably not a good one for the arachnophobes to watch.

One more ghastly detail. The poor fly, after it was gnawed on by Betty, made one last desperate bid for immortality by laying an egg. How sad.

The doomed fly needn’t have worried. I’m sure she left lots of progeny in the fly medium I took her from — progeny who will all grow up to be fed into the venomous maws of spiders. Bwahahahaha!

Man, spiders do bring out the villain in me.


  1. chigau (違う) says

    Is it the sabbatical that has brought out this side of your character?
    Students considering enrolling in your classes next year should be watching these videos vewy, vewy carefully.

  2. davidnangle says

    I can’t watch. Does it have that atonal pizzicato music that raises the hairs on the nape of your neck?

  3. weylguy says

    Hey Dr. Myers — What kind of juice do spiders inject into their prey to turn the prey’s insides into a spider milkshake? Must be a pretty potent protein or enzyme.

  4. chris61 says

    a technical question (for PZ or any fly geneticist reading this thread)

    I assume the flies are wingless due to genetic mutation. What do you use?

  5. says

    #6: Yes. This is really common in Drosophila — they are just little egg-making machines, and fertile females are constantly laying eggs. I wasn’t surprised at all, it’s a familiar sight.

    #7: apterous

  6. says

    #5: They’re related to black widows, but their venom is much weaker and their bite is unlikely to penetrate human skin. They can produce a condition called steatodism, which isn’t usually lethal but can make you mildly sick, and which can be treated by black widow anti-venoms, suggesting that it’s also a cytotoxic agent — it triggers necrosis.

  7. says

    PZ, did you know that spiders are vertebrates? I spotted a skeleton of one at my local pharmacy today. To see many more Google: spider plastic skeleton

  8. Callinectes says

    I have a fly swatter that is essentially an electrified tennis racket. I caught a big one the other day and fried it, as as its legs, wings, and proboscis twitched in it’s death throws its ovipositor flexed to its fullest extent and produced a single oblong egg.

    The same kind I keep finding in the dogs’ dinner, dammit. Fry, fly, fry.

  9. davidc1 says

    @14 I have one of those things as well ,i think you need the skills of a tennis pro to hit a fly with it .Yes this year i have been finding fly eggs in my cats food bowls .
    I find if you spray air freshener on a fly ,eventually it will have to land and you can squish it .

  10. says

    You know where those little flies in your kitchen come from, don’t you? Eggs that were laid on your fruit, and that you didn’t manage to eat before they hatched.

  11. methuseus says

    It’s October. That means I’ve got free rein to post horrifying spider videos, right?

    You always have free rein to post whatever you want whenever you want. I have a severe aversion to many spider videos (especially those Lucas ones with the kid’s voice), and am deeply afraid of them in my house, though I try not to kill them. However, I watched this video and enjoyed it. It doesn’t involve a spider coming anywhere near me or doing anything creepy in any form.I dunno why them eating insects calms me rather than bothers me.

  12. davidc1 says

    @17 The flies in my kitchen came through the open doors and windows ,We have had a very hot summer over in England .
    In times past the newspapers would run front pages with headlines such as “Phew ,What a scorcher ” and send a reporter and photographer off to fry eggs on pavements .