My terrible game

I just finished feeding my spider horde,and I have developed a cruel strategy that gets the job done efficiently.

  • Dump a large number of flies into a cup. I just invert a fly jar over it, and pitter-patter all the wingless Drosophila fall in like rain. I use a petri dish as a lid.
  • Remove the foam plugs from a half dozen spider vials. No hurry, the spiders won’t leave, they’ve got nice webby homes in there.
  • Incline the cup over each vial — the flies see this as an opportunity to escape, and begin streaming to the exit.
  • It’s a race! As each fly reaches the lip, I use a paintbrush to flick them into a spider vial, move to the next vial, flick another in, etc. I cheer them on. “You win! First place! You escape!”
  • The vials are criss-crossed with webbing. The spiders are not inclined to leave, and the flies are immediately snared and can’t escape.
  • Give the cup a tap to knock all the flies back down to restart the race.
  • Repeat until every spider has a frantically thrashing fly trapped in their vial.

I’m getting to the point where it only takes about 10 seconds per spider. The competitive aspect helps me get through it reasonably quickly. The labor isn’t the bottleneck on the colony, it’s mainly the space — I could easily fill up a half dozen incubators, I think.


  1. blf says

    Purina doesn’t make spider chow?

    Their executives and shareholders are a bit too nimble for the shackled chattel to feed into the grinders.

  2. DanDare says

    I couldn’t help it. My mind put people as fruit flies, a la Land of the Giants. The resulting scene in my mind was macabre.

  3. xohjoh2n says

    Are you not concerned that your genetically modified flies will cause the spiders to mutate into a race of giant cyborg spiders that will destroy us all?

  4. curbyrdogma says

    I feel bad for killing a spider today. :-( It was a cool little jumping spider, too. :-( Except I didn’t realize at the time that it was a spider. It looked and moved for all the world like an ant.

    It had suddenly made an appearance crawling across my graphics tablet. I brushed it off, and then realized, no I don’t want ants in the house (I’m guilty of eating at my desk while working); it probably came in through a gap in the windowsill where the air conditioner was. I scanned the floor. But it wasn’t on the floor. It was suspended from the edge of the desk by …a web? Is there a kind of ant that can spin silk? Anyhow, I lifted it up by its web and dropped it on the desk. It didn’t look anything like a spider. It didn’t move like a spider. No, that’s gotta be an ant, I thought. So it met its demise.

    Later, I Googled “ant that can spin silk” and instead found out about Myrmarachne Formicaria, the ant-mimicking jumping spider. Dang. I could have used that little guy patrolling around my window panes for random flying insects.