Long-legged beasties

On my daily spider meditation in the lab, today I found that they’d molted again. They’re bigger, and they have this rangy long-legged look to them.

Very handsome, one and all, but something is troubling me: they’re 8 months old. Keep in mind that I suspect there are baby Parasteatoda emerging right now, and by June/July they’ll be big strapping behemoths raising families of their own, so it’s clear my lab colony isn’t growing as fast as it should have — I may have been starving them for much of their childhood. I’m shoveling flies at them every day now, but for most of their life I had them on a weekly feeding schedule. Now I want to get some fresh egg sacs and do some comparative feeding protocols and see if that can determine an optimal schedule.

In other promising news, on my walk home from the lab I checked out a few familiar haunts. There’s a place where last year and the year before I’d found many shy Theridion lurking, and while I didn’t see any yet, I did find some fairly dense new cobwebs there. I also checked under the eaves of my house where, last year, Mary found a huge cat-faced spider that we observed all summer long, and where we found its body after the weather turned cold. No spider there yet, either, but some egg sacs tucked into dark corners, so maybe later. I’ll have to look in on that spot regularly.


  1. bcw bcw says

    So will this be like the starved mice experiments where they live longer?

  2. azpaul3 says

    I’ll have to look in on that spot regularly.

    An alternative might be to pile a few kilos of napalm in there and incinerate that entire section of the house.

  3. Rob Johnson says

    Just a thought, I have heard that spiders will consume their silk while repairing their webs. This has been posited as a source of nutrition from pollen etc. that becomes caught on the sticky threads. Is it possible that this provides nutrients that are in short supply in their live food? That might account for some of the growth difference between your hygienically maintained colony and their free-range brethren.