The Spider Times

Word on the street in these here parts is that you should ignore the warmth and the sunshine and wake up to the fact that the weather is going to change. Spiders are smarter than humans that way.

Seriously…so many egg sacs are appearing all over the place. I think the spiders are instinctively preparing for the catastrophe that is a Minnesota winter, and also responding to the bumper crop of mosquitos and other insects that are swarming everywhere right now.

The students and I have plans for this week.

  • Tomorrow, we’re going to take advantage of the plethora of egg cases to do a staging exercise, opening them up and assessing the developmental stage of the embryos, referring to this paper: Mittman,B and Wolff, C (2012) Embryonic development and staging of the cobweb spider Parasteatoda tepidariorum C. L. Koch, 1841 (syn.: Achaearanea tepidariorum; Araneomorphae; Theridiidae). Dev Genes Evol (2012) 222:189–216. It’ll be great fun.
  • Thursday is Feeding Day. At 10:00 we’ll feed the adults crickets and flies, and all the babies will get a fly of their own. This is becoming a bigger job every week.
  • Friday…COLLECTING TRIP. We’re going to cruise out to some of the local towns, outside of where we’re doing our spider survey, and we’re going to go wild filling vials with Parasteatoda and their egg cases, because I’m having my own anxiety about winter, when I’ll lose access to the wild population again. My goal is to have so many spiders that they’re dribbling out of my ears. We especially need more males.


  1. leerudolph says

    Why are you not recruiting the locals to survey their own garages?

    That might be a real doozie to get past the Institutional Review Board. (Or not.)

  2. blf says

    Isn’t identifying squished spiders an important part of any evilutionist’s plan, like the tank full of people-eating sharks and the vats breeding monstrosities?

  3. robro says

    PZ, as a spider lay person, not only would I not be able to identify them, I wouldn’t know how to collect them even if I was very careful. I would never intentionally squash them. I will say your enthusiasm for your project is fascinating to observe. Thanks for letting me watch from the sidelines.