The Spider Times

I’m trying to keep my spider-squad informed about plans for the lab, so I’ll be periodically sending out notifications to them. I figured maybe other people might be interested in the goings-on, at least those of you who aren’t currently horrified at my arachnological obsession of late.

Hey, spider-people! I bring you news.

1. Two weeks ago, we set up new cages for the female Parasteatoda in the colony: spacious, clean, with cardboard frames to clamber on. The spiders seem very happy, and have been busy filling the frames with cobwebs.

2. Last week, I was away at an arachnology conference that extended longer than expected, because of terrible airline delays. When I got back on Sunday, I fed everyone. They were hungry. All the spiders dived for the flies with impressive speed and were munching away ferociously.

3. I’m planning on regular feeding times every Monday and Thursday at noon — but not today, since I fed them yesterday. Feel free to stop by to watch the spectacle!

4. Today is a special day for another reason. After giving the females a week to construct webs in their new housing, today at noon is the day we’re going to introduce males into their chambers. We’re hoping the roomier quarters means they won’t immediately eat their mates. Come on by for the nuptials!

5. I’m planning the next phase of the Stevens County spider survey. We’re going to start on 8 July, and we have over 30 houses to visit. We’ll have the goal of doing 6 houses per day, with each house taking half an hour or so to screen. Let me know if you want to participate.

6. The new Spider-Man movie also comes out the week of 4 July. Anyone want to join me some evening that week? My treat, we just have to work out a good day. (Alternatively, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is on Netflix, starting in a few days…we could take over one of the classrooms and project it there.)

7. In other news, I’ve been posting photos of the spiders we meet to iNaturalist, in the Spiders of Minnesota project. We have the honor of the first recorded observation of Pholcus manueli in Stevens county! It was caught right here in the Science Atrium. It’s a good thing we caught it, too, because our diligent custodians eradicate any spider web they encounter.

8. You all saw the article in the Stevens County Times, right?

9. We have an egg sac that’s over a week old in the incubator, laid by Steatoda triangulosa, which isn’t the species I was planning to work on, but I’ll take anything now. The egg case is gauzy and semi-transparent, and you can see the embryos right through it. It could hatch out any day now, giving us a swarm of spiderlings.

So, things to look forward to:

  • Regular spider feedings at noon on Monday and Thursday
  • Mass wedding of a dozen spiders today at noon
  • Spider survey resumes on 8 July
  • Possible S. triangulosa spiderling hatch any day now


  1. blf says

    No mention of spider-egg omelettes… or soufflés? The captive readership — albeit not, apparently, enmeshed in a web (yet) — is not going to be impressed.

  2. jrkrideau says

    As a follow-up to my @ 2, if you know anyone on a paleo diet you might want to pass on some insect recipes. I suspect paleolithic humans ate a lot of insects. Easy to catch, high protein content.

  3. jrkrideau says

    Feel free to stop by to watch the spectacle!
    Why am I suddenly reminded of gladiators and Roman games?

  4. blf says

    @2, I eat insect (and not just bugs in the salad). The local Mexican restaurant offers fried grasshoppers(?), both as a starter (served with lime and tortillas), and as a garnish for various dishes. Not bad, rather good in fact. (Both the insect dishes and the restaurant, not to overlook the lovely couple who run it.) Now I’m hungry, and would go there for dinner tonight, except they’re closed on Mondays. Siiggghhhhsssss…

    From memory, the nearby paleo restaurant — which didn’t last too long, and closed some time ago — did not have insect, or spider, on the menu. Or, as I pointed out recently, any seafood or shellfish, despite being just a few metres from the Mediterranean Sea, and shellfish (at least) apparently being part of Neanderthal(?) diet in the general area.

  5. jrkrideau says

    @ 5 blf
    I tried sautéd grasshopper once. Quite good but as I did not have a net, I could be seen diving into grass all over the lawn as I caught them. I was exhausted by the time I had enough for lunch.

    I suspect I should have deep fried them.

  6. blf says

    jrkrideau@6, Deep-dried lawn sounds, well… albeit as disgusting as mushy peas. Although probably with more taste. Not tastes good, just… taste. Perhaps like a cardboard box soaked in used engine oil.