Spider status (no photos)

I spent a good chunk of my morning fussing over my spider colony, tidying up their vials and making sure they all had food (crickets for the larger ones, wingless fruit flies for the little guys.) I currently have 10 total adults, 8 females and 2 males, and a countless swarm of spiderlings that I’m gradually sorting out into individual dishes.

The current roster:


  • Gwyneth
  • Cathy
  • Diane
  • Amanda
  • Emma
  • Xena
  • Sara
  • Larry

The ones in blue have had a successful hatching, and are currently sharing their vial with some unknown number of babies. I’m slowly working on separating them.

The ones in red have an egg sac.

This is promising — they seem to be awesomely fecund. I’m going to have to wait on supplies before I can start doing mad science on the embryos, though. For now I’ll be content with just building up the colony and figuring out what I’m doing.

Uh, about Larry…Larry’s on the small side, and I initially only got a rough look at their morphology with a hand lens, and just today I got a good look under the scope. Larry’s a girl. Come on, people, I’m new at this — I’ll keep practicing at recognizing their sexes.


  • Barney
  • Harry
  • Fred (deceased)

Fewer males. I don’t know whether it’s due to high mortality upon encountering females, or if it’s just sampling bias. They are smaller and harder to spot.

These are all wild caught adults, found in our garage and sun porch. Credit where credit is due: Mary found them all, and lately she’s been catching them herself. True story: I was just reading papers, and had put together a few vials and things to begin the process of spider catching, when she told me there was a lovely spider on the door of the sun room, and asked was it the right species? And of course it was, so I clumsily scooped up Amanda and took her to the lab. And now Mary has the search image for these spiders locked into her brain, and she prowls around and spots them with her eagle eyes, and I haven’t had to do a lick of work.

Spider update!

Bad news, everyone. Fred is dead. Betty ate him. I’m hoping he at least fulfilled his biological destiny before getting his guts sucked out.

More bad news: as I expected, baby spiders are murderous little cannibals, and there’s been a fair bit of fratricide going on, even though they had plenty of fruit flies strolling about. I’ve now separated them all and the survivors now have their own little chambers with their own little fruit fly to gnaw on.

I made a quick video update. Don’t watch it if you’ve got the arachnophobia.

Here’s a story about a lab that has a substantially greater investment in spider science than I do.

Welcome, Larry!

Uh-oh. I just submitted my first grant application (a small, in-house grant to do pilot studies) for spider research. This might be getting serious.

In more routine news, I added a new fellow to my stable today: Larry. He’s now savoring a meal before I throw him to the loving mercies of the lady spiders.

In case you were curious about how to identify spider sex, I’ll explain below the fold.

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Friday Cephalopod: Another sign of the Cephalopocalypse

Last week, I reported that a 3-meter long clubhook squid had washed up on an Oregon beach. This week, I must report that it has happened again.

You must understand that if a few have died of natural causes, there must be a legion of them lying in wait off the coast. This can mean only one thing: the Cephalopocalypse is nigh. I must get myself to Oregon soon, so I can stand on the beach to greet the onrushing horde, and praise them, as they devour me first.