School portrait day

The spiders had to line up for their pictures today. I had a fixed routine, like a real portrait photographer.

  1. Fetch a spider condo cube from the incubator.
  2. Take a low power photo of the label, so I have a record of who is who on the camera ‘roll’.
  3. Carefully remove the lid to avoid startling the spider. They’ve already built elaborate cobwebs criss-crossing the chamber, so that didn’t always work. I wanted them still so I could get a focus series.
  4. Shoot a bunch of pictures.
  5. Spritz them with an atomizer of distilled water to gently convince them to change position. It also waters them — what was neat was watching them drink. A drop of water was roughly softball sized relative to the spider — they’d gather a droplet, bring it to their mandibles, and then you could see the droplet rapidly shrink as they slurped it down.
  6. Take another set of pictures.
  7. Flick a fly or two into the container as a reward.
  8. Put the condo back in the incubator.

It was a fun process, but I’m a little unhappy with the quality of the images — they’re not coming out very crisp. It may require some tweaking to compensate for the microscope adapter. Everything looks great through the eyepieces, but kind of squidgy in the camera output of the trinoc.

I’ll put one example below the fold.

You can see what I’m interested in — the pigment patterns in the abdomen. And now I’ve got a bunch of sibling individuals so I can start thinking about possible heritable patterns.

You can see the blurry outlines of water droplets all over the picture. Obviously, this was after I sprayed them with an atomizer. Each of those drops are clinging to a strand of silk so you can also get an idea of the extent of the cobweb. It’s everywhere!


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Watch out for the class clowns who sneak into line again so they can get their picture in the yearbook twice!

  2. Artor says

    I never knew spiders drank water. I assumed they got all the liquid they need from bug guts.

  3. nomdeplume says

    Interesting that they needed to drink immediately. Could this be related to the high mortality rate?

    You need a better system for photography if that photo is typical. I wish I could think of one. But it surely would need to involve temporary restriction of movement in a 2-dimensional space.

  4. wzrd1 says

    Try increasing the illumination and using a higher f-stop. That’ll give a bit better depth of field.

  5. azpaul3 says

    To get the sharpest pics I would snap the firemen spraying the building as the lab burns down.