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Oxyopidae: sharp, cat-like spiders

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The family Oxyopidae contains 448 species of spiders in 9 genera. They have a worldwide distribution but are (like so many groups) most speciose in the tropics. I had never encountered one personally before traveling in Central and South America, but it turns out we have two species in the genus Oxyopes in Canada!

Oxyopids (also known as lynx spiders) all have 8 eyes, and can be easily distinguished from spiders in other families by their characteristic hexagonal eye arrangement, as well as the often dagger-like spines (called macrosetae) on their legs. The family name Oxyopidae is derived from the genus name Oxyopes, which is a combination of the Greek word for ‘sharp’ (ὀξύς), and the Latin word for ‘foot’ (pes). Sharp-legged is a rather apt description for many members of this family. (Updateaccording to Spiders of North America it means sharp-eyed, which is also an accurate, but slightly less obvious, descriptor.)

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A female Oxyopes salticus (one of the two lynx spider species found in Canada) sporting impressive (sharp-looking!) spines on her legs and the characteristic hexagonal oxyopid eye arrangement. Photo by Thomas Shahan, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Members of this family are generally diurnal hunters, with keen eyesight (for spiders) and great agility. Like the cats they are named after, lynx spiders often stalk and pounce on their prey. They are proficient jumpers, and some might even be mistaken for a salticid at first glance. This one looks like it might actually mimic a jumping spider.

This cryptic oxyopid (a Hamataliwa species) we found in Honduras fooled me twice: at first glance it looked like a bump on a twig, and on my second look, after realizing it was a spider, the size and posture had me thinking it was a salticid. Photo: Sean McCann

Some oxyopids are ambush predators, staking out flowers and waiting for unsuspecting insect visitors. Like crab spiders (Thomisidae) with similar behaviour, green lynx spiders have the ability to slowly change colour (the process takes several days) to match the background they are sitting on – usually flowers.

A green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) from Fort Pierce, Florida. This species can change its colour to match the background it sits on (see some examples of better background-matching here under ‘identification’). Photo: Sean McCann

Like the disparate forms these spiders take – compare the Peucetia viridans above with the Hamataliwa grisea below – they also have fascinating variety in their habits.

A Hamataliwa grisea found in Gainesville Florida. Photo: Sean McCann

While most lynx spiders are cursorial hunters that don’t use silk for prey capture, there is one web-building genus (Tapinillus), including a social spider species that engages in communal web building and cooperative prey-capture!

Peucetia tranquillini is a wanderer that invades the orb-webs of female Nephila clavipes, locating and preying on courting males by responding to their vibrations, and sometimes vibrating the web themselves, apparently to attract a resident spider (a possible example of aggressive mimicry). One individual was also found residing in the tangle-web of a brown widow (Latrodectus geometricus) for several days, capturing prey caught in the web, and even stealing prey captured by the web owner (kleptoparasitism).

Spiders in the genera Oxyopes and Peucetia are members of what I like to call the centimetres high club: they mate in the air, hanging from a silken thread spun by the female. In one species, the male wraps the female in a silk ‘bridal veil‘ before copulation.

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Oxyopes scalaris, the other lynx spider that can be found in Canada. Photo by Kyron Basu, licensed under CC BY-ND-NC 1.0.

Mother green lynx spiders guard their egg sacs and newly emerged spiderlings, and will fiercely defend them by spitting venom. While the spitting spiders (Scytodidae) shoot a deadly combination of venom and silk out of their fangs to capture prey, this seems to be the only spider with venom-spraying defensive behaviour.

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A gravid female green lynx spider (Peucetita viridans), capable of forcibly ejecting irritating venom from her fangs. Photo: Sean McCann

Source: spiderbytes.org

Opportunity makes a thief

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Sometimes unexpected things happen when you’re observing spiders. The following series of photos is by Catherine Aitken, who has a wonderful wildlife photography blog: Lardeau Valley Time. She recently witnessed and captured this incredible interaction in her garden, and kindly gave me permission to share her photos here.

Here we see a lovely pink and white flower crab spider (Misumena vatia) peacefully slurping her lunch (an unfortunate hoverfly).

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Photo: Catherine Aitken

But soon an uninvited guest (a foraging western yellowjacket) arrives.

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Photo: Catherine Aitken

A great struggle ensues.

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Photo: Catherine Aitken

The wasp emerges victorious, while the spider retreats.

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Photo: Catherine Aitken

Crab spiders are pretty formidable predators, and I’ve seen them feeding on yellowjackets themselves, as in the photo below. So I found this instance of a wasp stealing a crab spider’s prey rather surprising and fascinating. You never know what wonders you might witness when you spend time watching spiders!

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Xysticus with eastern yellowjacket. Photo: Sean McCann (used with permission).

This entry was posted in predation and tagged crab spider, flower crab spider, Thomisidae by cataranea. Bookmark the permalink.

Oecobiidae

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Last week a colleague of mine found a tiny spider we didn’t recognize in the biology building at UTSC. We regularly find common house-dwelling spiders in and around the buildings on campus (most often false widows, Steatoda grossa triangulosa). But this spider was different from the ones we usually find in the building – tiny (only a couple of millimetres long), pale in colour, and a very fast runner! I brought it home and asked Sean to take some photos of it, and we soon realized it was a member of the fascinating family Oecobiidae. [note: this paragraph was revised on 7 Dec. 2015]

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Oecobius sp. from Scarborough, Ontario. Photo: Sean McCann (used with permission)

The name Oecobiidae comes from the Greek words oikos (οικος), meaning “house” and bios (βιος), meaning “living”. A name that means “living in the house” is highly appropriate for these synanthropic spiders that are commonly found in human dwellings. The spider we found is most likely one of two species that have a worldwide distribution and can be found in southeastern Canada: Oecobius cellariorium (cellariorium means, unsurprisingly, “of the cellar” in Latin) and Oecobius navus (navus means active or busy, which these little spiders certainly are!).

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Oecobiid next to its sheetweb. Photo: Mark Yokoyama, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Despite their very appropriate scientific names, non-Latin and Greek speakers have come up with a variety of fun common names for members of this family. These include wall spiders, baseboard spiders, stucco spiders, starlegged spiders, disc web spiders, and dwarf round-headed spiders. The official common name for the family is “flatmesh weavers” (at least in North America, according to the American Arachnological Society) because of the flat webs they build.

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Figures 2 and 3 from Glatz 1969, showing the two kinds of webs built by Oecobius navus (previously called Oecobius annulipes). The first is a “star-shaped” web with an upper and lower sheet surrounded by radiating silk lines. These threads allow the spider sitting on the lower sheet to detect vibrations produced by prey. When the spider detects prey outside its web it can rush out in any direction to capture it. The second type of web is similar, but the upper and lower sheets form a tube, with only two entrances.

I quite like the name starlegged spiders for oecobiids though, because it so aptly describes one of the very distinctive characteristics of spiders in this family. Unlike most spiders, which have the first two pairs of legs pointing forward and the last two pointing backward (an exception is the family Segestriidae, which have the first three pairs pointing forward), oecobiids have all 8 legs sticking more or less straight out from their bodies, in a somewhat starburst-like fashion.

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Oecobius sp. (male). In addition to being “star-legged”, oecobiids have their 8 eyes arranged in a characteristic cluster in the centre of a circular cephalothorax. Photo: Sean McCann

The defining characteristic of oecobiids, however, is the extraordinary anal tubercle (that’s exactly how it’s described in this paper, and I assure you it is entirely appropriate). Seriously, these tiny spiders have the most incredible hairy butts! Ahem. Fringed anal tubercles, I mean. Let me explain.

The North American oecobiids are cribellate spiders. What this means is that the spider is equipped with a cribellum (a special silk spinning organ covered with thousands of tiny spigots) near the spinnerets and a calamistrum (a specialized row of bristles) on each of the fourth legs. The calamistrum is used to comb out fine strands of cribellar silk into sheets with a fuzzy texture. The stickiness of this silk comes from its physical structure, as opposed to the glue used by ecribellate (non-cribellate) spiders to make their capture silk sticky. Anyway, instead of combing silk out of the cribellum with the calamistrum like regular cribellate spiders, oecobiids have their own fancy way of doing things. They use the fringe of hairs on their jointed anal tubercles to comb silk directly from arrays of spigots on a pair of enlarged spinnerets.

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Figure 11 from Glatz 1969, showing the extraordinary fringed anal tubercle and spinning apparatus. The long posterior lateral spinnerets (labelled hspw) are covered with spigots (s). The outer fringe of hairs (rh) on the anal tubercle comb silk out of the spinnerets. The anal tubercle is also equipped with sensory hairs (mh) that are used to detect prey movement via vibrations through the silk threads.

This unusual set-up enables oecobiids to produce a sheet of sticky silk without using their legs, which is important for their unusual method of prey capture. Many spiders use their last pair of legs to pull sticky silk out of their spinnerets and throw it onto their prey. Oecobiids, instead, run around and around their prey in circles as they spew out ribbons of silk from their feathery butts. Once the victim (often an ant) is fully encircled and stuck to the substrate, the spider bites it. Here is a video of the behaviour.

The spider does occasionally use its last pair of legs while wrapping the ant with silk, but the anal tubercle/spinneret combo does most of the work. Female and juveniles of Oecobius navus can produce cribellar silk, but adult males have a reduced cribellum and don’t have a calamistrum at all. Another oecobiid genus, Uroctea, used to be placed in its own family, the Urocteidae, because they are ecribellate (lacking the cribellum and calamistrum).
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Uroctea durandi, one of the ecribelleate oecobiids. Photo: Siga, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Early work on spiders in the genus Oecobius suggested that they were ant-specialists, but more recent research has shown that they eat a variety of prey types. However, different populations of a single species seem to specialize to some extent on whatever type of prey is most locally abundant. In Portugal, a population of Oecobius navus preys mainly on ants, but another population in Uruguay eats mostly flies.

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Male (right) and female (left) Oecobius sp. Photo: Allan Lance (used with permission). Check out more of Allan’s photos of oecobiids here.

Reproductive behaviour has only been well documented in Oecobius navus. The male spins a tubular silk mating web on top of the female’s retreat and tries to entice her to join him inside. Copulation only occurs if she enters the male’s web, and sometimes the female will cannibalize the male during or after mating. Females are not caring mothers in this species – they spin several egg sacs that each contain only 3 to 10 eggs and then abandon them.

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Oecobius sp. from Scarborough. Photo: Sean McCann

Now that you know all about oecobiids, keep your eyes out for them! They live all over the world, and often on the walls and ceilings of houses. You never know – there might be one in the room with you right now!

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This photo of an Oecobius sp. is one Sean dug up from his archives. We had found the spider in our old lab at SFU in BC, and did not identify it at the time. When Sean showed me the photo recently, and I started trying to ID it, I took a look at the checklist of BC spiders to get an idea of which species it might be. I didn’t see any oecobiids on the list, so I emailed the author, Robb Bennett, and it turns out that this photo is the first record of the family for British Columbia.

Source: spiderbytes.org

My garden orb weavers

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This is the first of the introductions to the regulars for this summer. I have found two garden orb weavers this year, both Eriophora pustulosa (family Araneidae). These are distinguished by three little bumps on the end of their abdomens.

Erik-Rose is on the rose bushes. She is brownish. Erio-birch is on the white-barked birch tree. She is much paler. They vary colour greatly depending on where they rest during the day. Despite intense searching, I haven’t managed to find the resting place for either. Yet!

They are both still very small, less than a centimetre in body length. My hope is that both will make it to adulthood. Well, they’ve got this far. I shall keep you updated with their progress. But first, their photos. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Erik-Rose is hanging in the typical pose in the web. They always hang face down.

She wasn’t impressed with my light and flash and presence. She pulled in her web and wound it up and headed back into the rose bush. She then sat and ate the ball of silk. She couldn’t afford to waste all that protein! I have seen this before. I shall have to be more subtle. This is a moment after she pulled in the web – it happened very fast. She’s heading off.

 

This is Erio-birch looking very like every Eriophora. She’s actually much paler than Erio-rose, but it doesn’t show here. She’s also much less concerned about my presence.

 

Tonight, Erio-birch had moth stew for dinner.

 

The other regulars include two black house spiders, one American common house spider and one little hump-backed spider. More about them next time!

Meet the regulars – spring has sprung

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This will be my first season in Castlemaine. Amazing creatures appearing from every nook and cranny! I have chosen a few to be my regulars for the blog. Hope they all make it through the season. (Click on images for a larger version.)

Let’s start with the show-offs – the orb weavers. The golden orb weavers (Nephila sp.) are still in their egg sacs, none yet hatched. The garden orb weavers are busy weaving their magic. The three I have found are all Eriophora pustulosa, not the same species as I had previously. These all have three little bumps on the end of their abdomens. The largest is Pustula, just a corruption of her species name. She lives on the back verandah.

Archer lives under an arch covered with ivy pelargoniums.
The third, of which I hope at least one makes it to breeding, is the smallest, but makes the most perfect webs outside the studio where I write, which I call my garret. So she is Garreta. Tonight, she was taking it a bit easy, not showing off like her fellow Eriophoras.  Still gorgeous!
I have lots of my very favourite spiders, the black house spiders (Badumna insignis) and their smaller cousins, the grey house spiders, Badumna longinqua. I’ll only introduce one although I go out and talk to lots of them every night. You’ll be pleased to know that none of them reply. Stonewalled has got me fascinated. Black house spiders build funnelled webs, usually with two entrances or more, into a retreat. Stonewalled has done all that, her retreat going far back into the stone wall along the front of the house. But she has pieces of casuarina needles from the garden above her neatly woven into her web. I have seen trapdoor spiders do that. I have seen wolf spiders do that. But I’ve never seen a black house do it. Has anyone else? Here is my Badumna artist.
So many regulars I want to introduce, but I will have to be selective. So last is my little common house sider who lives on the porch. Achaearanea sp. I call her Portico.
Portico was using a tiny piece of twig caught in her web to stabilise herself as she wrapped a large prey. I couldn’t identify it.
There are lots more, but those are some of the spiders I check on every night. Their stories will be told here. Others may join, and of course, being low in the food chain, these spiders may become food.

Master spinners of silk: the Orbweavers

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The following article was published in Nature News, Midland Express, 6th June 2017.

Local writer Dr. Lynne Kelly shares her love of spiders and knowledge of two local species of Orbweavers commonly found in the Castlemaine region.

Left: Garden orbweaver in her web at night. Right: Golden orbweaver in her web by day with a tiny male approaching from above. Photos taken by: Dr Lynne Kelly

I adore spiders. I used to be an arachnophobe but knowledge cures an irrational fear, slowly at first. Then one day I watched an orbweaver spin her web from start to finish. That was the day I became a spider-obsessive. In the Mount Alexander Shire two varieties of orbweavers dominate – the large golden orbweavers who stay on their webs all day and the slightly smaller garden orbweavers that spin in the evening and scamper to hide in the foliage at dawn.

We have a few species of garden orbweavers. They are all in the Eriophora genus, distinguished by two prominent projections near the front of the abdomen. Garden orbweavers usually remove most of their web before dawn, re-absorbing the protein in the silk to use again. A single reinforced strand is left across the gap between bushes or trees in the hope that it will still be there the following evening. If that strand is broken, the spider will point her abdomen skyward and release a fine filament of silk. In even the slightest breeze, this silk will catch on foliage and she will rush across, back and forward, to reinforce the mainstay of her web. She will then drop to the ground and attach an anchor. She’ll rush up again to spin the radials and a spiral outwards. From the edge of her nearly complete web, she will then circle back towards the centre laying down the sticky spiral. Having worked tirelessly for nearly an hour, she will rest, head down, waiting for her prey.

Unlike the garden orbweavers, the huge golden orbweavers stay on the web all day, constantly repairing and reinforcing it. It is not the spider which is golden but the glow of the silk when it catches the sun. All the individuals I’ve seen locally are the Australian Golden Orbweaver (Nephila edulis). Discarded debris is left in the web above the spider to confuse the birds. Male garden orbweavers are only marginally smaller than their females but the males of the golden orbweavers are tiny by comparison [see above photo on right]. Although the males of most spider species will survive their sexual encounters, the Nephila males sacrifice themselves in their final act. Having produced a golden egg sac, the female will then die with the first frost.

For further reading, Lynne’s book, “Spiders: learning to love them” (Allen & Unwin, 2009) is an excellent resource for those interested in finding out more about these amazing creatures.

Source: spiderblogger.blogspot.com

Kids and Spiders in Honduras

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Here in Honduras, Sean and I have happily taken the opportunity to interact with some great local kids who seem almost as excited about spiders as we are!

We lent them some plastic tubes for collecting, and they headed off to search for cool spiders around town. In no time at all, they brought back an impressive collection, from tiny jumping spiders to massive wandering spiders.

 

These kids are totally fearless, casually picking up spiders that are about half the length of their hands! Sometimes they were a bit too enthusiastic in their efforts to capture a speedy specimen, and one brought back a partly crushed spider and a bite on his finger to show for his efforts. (Spiders do occasionally bite, but only as a last resort if they are in a life-threatening situation!) He seemed more proud than upset by this result, but we tried our best to encourage gentler handling from then on!

Here’s a selection of the best shots from one afternoon of collecting (all photos by Sean McCann).

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A large wandering spider (family Ctenidae). I’m not sure about the identification, but she looks similar to the Ancylometes bogotensis I wrote about in a post on ‘bridal veils‘.

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A lovely female grey wall jumper, Menemerus bivittatus. This species can also be found in the southern U.S.

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A male grey wall jumper (I’m guessing he was caught in close proximity to the female), doing what wall jumpers do, hanging out on a wall.

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A tiny tarantula spiderling! Notice that the back end of the abdomen is bald… most likely in response to a kid trying to capture it, this spider has shed its defensive urticating hairs (more about tarantula defenses here.

Source: spiderbytes.org

Introducing the garden orb weavers and wolf spiders

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So much is happening in the surrounds of the house that I will try and record just some of it here. There are too many spiders to introduce them all, but that won’t stop me trying. Clicking on the images will enlarge them.

The most dramatic are the garden orb weavers (Eriophora biapicata, family Araneidae). I have two just outside the back door who are making sizable webs already. This is Regal, named such because she is located among the regal pelargonioums.  She isn’t making proper orb webs, constrained by the many branches of the shrub around her. I pruned a bit yesterday to try and help. Any location with a spider becomes sacred ground – pruning, digging, walking – they’re all limited to minimize the impact on the resident arachnid.

Garden orb weavers will change colours according to their surroundings, so they vary enormously, which makes them visually stunning companions. Regal rests on dried leaves in her bush and is almost impossible to see there without searching for the leg which will be monitoring the web – just keeping in touch (literally) with her hunting grounds.

I have at least three species of wolf spider (family Lycosidae), some are free range hunters, but the large burrowers are the ones I get to know as individuals – Lycosa godeffroyi. There are two, one in each of the vegetable gardens, who have their domains fenced off, and we garden around them.

Cucumber (named after the crop her bed held last year) is as cool as her name. She will sit out sunning herself, as wolf spiders love to do, even as we garden around her. She is extraordinarily confident. Only young, this is her first season. She moulted in the last few days, and is now near to full size.

Cucumber is sunning herself outside her burrow, cleaning her chelicerae (the bits which hold the fangs)

She’s using her front pair of legs and her pedipalps (aka palps) to clean off the grime left after a feed. I think the white blob is just a small pebble on her back. I hope it isn’t a parasitic maggot. I guess I’ll find out when I see her next. You can see her two large and four small eyes (in a line underneath her large ones) on the front of her head. Two more on top, totalling 8. You can also see bits of silk everywhere as she has woven her chosen pieces of straw, and even the living plant, into her burrow architecture.

Cucumber eventually got sick of me and headed back into her burrow.
You can see the pair of posterior eyes on the top of her head, giving her a total of 8.

Rocky has a circle of rocks surrounding her massive burrow in the corn patch. She is in her second year, so large – about 2.5 cm in body length alone. With her long legs spread, she’d be more than double that. Rocky is extremely shy. I have to start sneaking from 5 metres away for a chance of seeing any more than a fleeting glimpse of wolf spider disappearing down her burrow. She holds the egg sac in her hind legs, face down into her burrow, so her eggs can get warmth of the sun.

Rocky’s blueish egg sac, held by her hind legs – one visible on the right.
You can also just see the spinnerets at the top also holding the egg sac.

 

Rocky’s egg sac in her rock circle. She pulled the small piece of bark over the burrow to hide it when she was making her egg sac.

 

Source: spiderblogger.blogspot.com

Introducing the daddy long-legs spiders

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I adore these gentle leggy spiders. The name ‘daddy long-legs’ is also given to the harvestmen, which are not true spiders, having a single body section. But this blog is about the spiders version – Pholcus phalangioides, Family Pholcidae. Before I introduce the blog star, I must add my favourite photograph, taken of a spider who lived under the table in the lounge room for a long time.

Isn’t she incredibly elegant?

 

Please meet Mother-cups, the daddy long-legs who is definitely a mother – holding her egg sac in her jaws, in one of the kitchen cupboards above the coffee cups. She just sits there patiently waiting for them to hatch. I adore watching the young emerge, the greatest confusion of legs you could ever see.

I have seen a female with an egg sac take prey. When a fly was caught in her web, she attached her egg sac to the web, left it there, had dinner and then returned to take her egg sac in her jaws again.

It is a myth that these gorgeous creatures have the most dangerous venom – they don’t. They can pierce the skin, but it is very hard to get them to bite. They are just too docile. They feed often on other spiders. I have had a few hundred breed in the kitchen and lounge area over the last year or so, but there are only a dozen in residence. I have a feeling they ate each other.

I adore watching the males and females as they share a web, which they often do for weeks. They will twang the web at each other constantly communicating, and eventually the male will make his approach. At times he will make a sudden retreat, obviously she is still not ready! Their vast webs are a means of detecting the world and communicating with each other. I will blog them often – they are my constant companions in the kitchen. But the moment I am really waiting for is to see Mother-cups‘ young hatch.
Everyone in the world can have the pleasure of watching these beautiful spiders. Just leave their webs alone and use a strong torch to get a good look at them. Their egg sacs are clearly visible, and with a strong torch, each egg is visible to the naked eye. There is no better spider to watch and enjoy.

Introducing the Black house spiders

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The black house spiders are my favourites. OK, these photos aren’t as pretty as the orb weavers, but I really love these guys. I can watch them all the time, because they build their funneled webs all over the house. Webs are not cleaned off, and so they build up as new spiders take over old webs. The back verandah is a lacework of webs with about 70 spiders out there at any one time, 30 or so on the door panes. There are two species, the larger black house and smaller grey house (Badumna insignis and Badumna longinqua, Family Desidae).

In their funneled webs, Badumna longinqua (l), body length about 14 mm, and Badumna insignis (r), with a body length of about 18 mm. The males are about half the size of the females.
I will blog these spiders a lot, because they are my constant companions. Mostly it will be the larger of the two, B. insiginis.
In this post I will just introduce the three individuals who I have chosen to blog. They live on the back door, which consists of 20 panes. The numbers in the names refer to their door panes, numbered, not very originally, from 1 to 20. 99% of spiderlings do not make it to maturity. For 4 years I have been leaving the webs on the door panes, in the hope that one day I will see a female making her egg sac, and then see the young hatch. But the birds usually take the spiders when they get to a good size. Today I finally witnessed an egg sac being made!
Mother-13 was clearly gravid – ready to lay. Her abdomen was quite swollen. This was what I could see through the glass pane yesterday. This is into her retreat, so she has lined it with silk. But at least I can see her.
Mother-13 ready to lay.
Then, this morning I saw it. Mother-13 was spinning her egg sac, which she had attached to the glass. Here she has just finished. You can see how much of her abdomen full of silk has now become egg sac and eggs.
Girl-in-one and Guy-in-one are a male and female in pane one, who have been cohabiting for two weeks now. Most male spiders do not become dinner for their mates – that’s just a few species. I am hoping for another egg sac at some time soon. This is how they look to me from inside the kitchen.
The smaller male, Guy-in-one, above, and the female, Girl-in-one, below, are cohabiting. The female would not tolerate another living creature in her web other than a male. She’d eat it.
Upsider is a much more typical black house spider, in that she has her retreat worked into a crevice. In her case, it is into the brickwork next to the door. She always rests upside down. An individual will tend to always rest in a particular orientation, even though the entrance appears to be pretty regular to me.
If you look closely at the full size (click on the image) then you will see that Upsider’s fangs act like pincers – pointing toward each other. That’s the way they are in most spiders, often referred to as ‘modern’ spiders. The ‘primitive’ spiders – trapdoors, Australian funnelweb spiders and mouse spiders – have their fangs pointing downward. They raise their front half to strike down on prey. I will blog our Victorian trapdoors in another post. Upsider has 8 eyes, in rows along the top of her head (well, bottom of her head, given that she is upside down). The eyes are very small, and mostly detect light. Upsider detects the world through her sense of touch – through air movement over her hairs, and through the web.
You have now met them. They live pretty active lives, as future posts will show.
Update:
Regal fed extremely well today. I couldn’t identify the shrouded creature, but I would guess it was a large flying beetle.
An hour outside tonight, and I counted 34 orb webs. Most will not make it to full size, but some will. It’s going to be a wonderful summer!