I mentioned yesterday that I had hit a roadblock: my spider colony was reduced to nearly all females! Those dang feminists have taken over everything.
Some good news today, though. My student’s set of breeding spiders included two more males, so I’m now up to four studs I can rotate around. This is an interesting observation, actually, that males kept in solitary are far more likely to die. These additional males had been sharing cages with females for the last month and a half, where they’d been thriving in connubial bliss. I guess this isn’t surprising, since mature males tend to be much more active, scampering about the landscape looking for mates, so confining them to a convenient container is almost certainly more stressful for them.
Today’s mating efforts were not visibly successful. The males were tentative, but did approach the females, and began with gentle stroking of the ladies abdomens, and the females did respond with a typical butt-waggle, but nothing went further while I was watching. I’ve given them some privacy now, I hope they’ll successfully mate overnight…because tomorrow the males have a date scheduled with a different female.
They also looked a bit worn-out today — I hope that’s a good sign.