Mundane news from the spider lab 🕷

Only a week and a half until classes come crashing down on me! Today was a lab maintenance day, next week I’m relocating to my campus office every day, to get back into the routine. So the news of the day is:

  • The latest Steatoda triangulosa egg sac has not yet hatched out. S. triangulosa is dilatory, especially compared to Parasteatoda tepidariorum. I’m pretty sure I’ll see another wave of spiderlings in the next few days.
  • The adult S tri made another egg sac, making a total of 4 more waiting in the wings. This is good news — it means I’ll be getting new spiderlings every week or two for a while.
  • A P tep egg sac also hatched out this morning. There are 100-150 baby spiders awaiting my care. Today I just threw them a bunch of flies and told them to kill something, daddy’s busy, I’ll sort them out tomorrow.
  • I realized that all of the incubators in my lab are full up. There’s a bigger one on the third floor, but that means I’m going to have to trek up and down stairs every day.
  • I fed everyone. That took a while. Even with my super efficient Fly Shaker™ it was a lot of uncorking vials, shaking flies into them, stoppering them back up, and stuffing them back into the incubator.
  • The subset of S tri I’ve set aside for weekly measurements molted again, which means with my feeding regimen they’re molting ever 20 days.
  • A couple of those S tri are getting huge, fast. May need to crank up that feeding regimen.
  • One glitch in the routine: the building diH2O tanks dried up last week. I need diH2O to make fly medium, to make flies, to feed to the spiders, and I’m on a constant treadmill of making more. An interruption in the cycle of fly-making means there may be a supply chain problem next week, a little gap in production. The spiders might get hangry.
  • I stooped to buying spring water from the grocery store (Morris tap water is not acceptable for much of anything) and got fresh fly bottles going today.
  • I reassured them that even if there is a fly problem, the students are coming back next week, so there should be a fresh supply of ripe, juicy bodies in the hallway.

That is all.


  1. silvrhalide says

    Only with spiders instead.
    If you get one Shelob-sized, then you really need to post pictures!

  2. robro says

    “… that means I’m going to have to trek up and down stairs every day.” Good for ya’, or so they say. Still, I appreciate that stairs are a problem. I got one knee that complains painfully about stairs because, and as a physical therapist once said, the knee bone is connected to the back bone and my back bone has some problems.

  3. lochaber says

    Is there any way you can hire a student lab assistance via work-study funding? Several of the college/university jobs I worked at really liked hiring work-study students, since most/all of their wages came from the federal government and not out of that department’s funding. Granted, I don’t have the best understanding of the financial and logistical aspects of that process…

    But, thinking back to my first year as a college student, I would have much rather tended spiders, fruit flies, and meal worms than wash pots in the dining halls… (and I’m one of those who really does not react well to spiders…)

  4. drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says

    “told them to kill something, daddy’s busy…”
    That cracked me up so hard. It’s like talking to my cat.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Lochaber @ 3
    This sounds like a great idea.
    BTW most researchers have not the time to reach out to the public with information about their research.
    -I want to plug for two physicists who make the effort to make physics less incomprehensibe:
    ‘Physics Girl’ at Youtube. And
    ‘Sabine Hossenfelder’ (who just arrived at the half-million subscriber mark at Youtube; Congratulations)
    If Ken Ham has a bogus ark, can real böna fide researchers please make an ‘Arachneland’ ?
    I am thinking giant, 3D-printed versions of real spider species. Add a couple of scorpions as they are relatives. Maybe a Silurian-era sea scorpion for a water attraktion.
    There were many giant arthropods in the oxygen-rich carboniferous atmosphere. 1:1 scale replicas crawling in a carboniferous landscape would make the visiting school kids go nuts.