Nest-building spiders!

I told you we’re seeing one of the Parasteatoda in the lab is building a fairly dense nest. Today we took a walk around the house and we’re seeing that all the Theridiidae are getting into some intense nest construction. Here’s one example by our front door:

I had gently poked that nest with my finger, and the occupant dropped out of it; you can see her in the photo. I’ll include some closeups below the fold. The nest is a tangle of debris strung together, with at least three egg sacs at the top (at least one had already hatched out).

There was another around the corner, made from a captured leaf.

I’ll be checking on these and any others I find as winter closes in. I’ll be interested to see if they survive the prairie winds, and how they cope with snow and freezing cold. Will a crop of spiderlings emerge in the spring?

Here’s the handsome mother spider from that first nest. She conveniently adopted a few poses for me.

Look deep into her eyes.

Another thing I’m seeing, purely subjectively and not at all quantitatively, is that the spiders I’m finding in the fall are generally darker than the ones I saw earlier this summer. Now I’m wondering if pigmentation might be partly a response to the environment…something else to look into.


  1. John Morales says

    Now I’m wondering if pigmentation might be partly a response to the environment…something else to look into.

    Ah, the scientific mindset. I like it.

  2. siwuloki says

    Apocryphally, I see the same pigmentation response in central Arizona lizard populations. They darken in October before estivation.

  3. wzrd1 says

    With the first one, I was considering that and awaiting further observations. Even money, some will come out of dormancy, depending upon conditions, others might have young come out.
    That there was an egg sack suggests adaptation to conditions lead to hedging a bet.

  4. cartomancer says

    Or could it just be that they look darker because the lighting conditions are different, and there is less direct sunlight in the autumn? I’ve noticed this phenomenon with my own hair sometimes – that when I’m outdoors it looks much darker in winter and much lighter in summer, but when I’m indoors it returns to its normal dark brown state. Which would preclude the possibility that the light has bleached it significantly (not that I tend to go outside much anyway).

  5. birgerjohansson says

    They need to enlarge those nests if any of the crew from the Nostromo is going to fit…

  6. rrhain says

    It seems the orb spiders on the river have decided to bless my house again. They used to build their webs outside my bedroom window, but they have decided that’s just too much of a climb and should they deign to put a web on my condo, it’s downstairs now.

    A couple years ago, it was on the porch…and in such a way that it was right in the middle of it such that I couldn’t really go out onto the porch without disturbing it. And it was about this time of year, too, and it stuck around through Halloween and thus I had the most authentic spider web decoration.

    This year, it’s right outside the front door. There’s steps leading up to the door and the web is at the top of the archway so I can get in and out of the house without disturbing it. But it does mean that when I open the front door, that’s the first thing you see.

    Hopefully nobody will try to disturb it and I’ll have another spider for Halloween. Perhaps I’ll start leaving the porch light on overnight….