Where’s Brienne?

We go from the sublime to the hideous. When we were doing our routine check for egg sacs the other day, we discovered that Brienne had produced a nice one for us, deep in the elaborate network of webbing she had built in her box. It’s the pale oval on the lower left in this photo.

But…no Brienne. She had disappeared. Look below the egg sac above — there’s a tangled mess below it. I zoomed in on it. It’s an ogre’s nest, apparently.

Ick. Dead flies, bits of dead cricket carapace, all strung together with thick, ropey cables of webbing. Spiders make multiple kinds of web, you know, and these spiders will make cables of web silk that are remarkably tough and hard even for humans to break. I tugged at these with forceps, and nope, they aren’t going anywhere, shy of ripping out the whole structure and possibly injuring its occupant.

Yeah, Brienne is hiding deep inside, the dark shadow near the center of the nest.

These animals always surprise me. They’ve got a complex range of behaviors, and I have no idea what triggered this strange construction. The other spiders in the colony aren’t doing it. I’ve seen a few examples of spiders cobbling together debris into shelters, but it’s not universal, and usually they aren’t this thickly armored and enclosed.

Next they’re going to start assembling tools and weapons, and then you’d better look out.


  1. says

    They can go through diapause. It’s not adequate to survive a Minnesota winter, unless they’re also hunkered down inside the fringes of human habitation. It’s entirely possible she thinks Winter Is Coming, and is getting ready for it.

  2. leerudolph says

    They’ve got a complex range of behaviors, and I have no idea what triggered this strange construction.

    It’s Art.

  3. Snidely W says

    Are they done with ecdysis at this stage of life?
    Although it does seem a bit cramped in there, I’m not a spider.

  4. unclefrogy says

    if your winters are as tough as they are how do the spiders get through it?
    Is it mostly from new hatchings every year? How do the eggs survive the cold, freeze and thaw cycles.
    Out here on the west coast I do not have much experience with freezing cold and such but the spider populations do fluctuate with the seasons and the prey though the ones in the house not so much
    uncle frogy

  5. lesherb says

    It sure looks like Brienne would most definitely qualify as a hoarder. Maybe the A&E network would be interested in developing a spin-off (pun intended) hoarders show called Hoarders: Arachnid’s Buried at Home

  6. says

    So what happens when the evolved octopus discover the tool using spiders? Will they quickly settle their differences as octopods and go after the tetrapods, dividing the earth and sea between themselves? I’m not sure I like this tun of events…

  7. says

    She probably read the news this morning. No matter her particular preferences, these days that’s enough to send anyone into hiding with a weeks’-long supply of food. Is there a tiny remote control there with her?

  8. blf says

    She’s being stalked by a bizarre being with only two arms, two eyes, and goes bzzzz click click click damn! Retreating to a pillowsilk-fort and munching on some juicy fly comfort food seems quite understandable.