A Time for Mothers.


The monsoon is High Spring for a lot of spiders and critters in India, odd as that may sound. You start seeing spiders in different stages of their life cycle, and you get snapshots of how things are in the whole birth-growth-death cycle.

Here’s a hunting spider, an Oxyopes spp. (brown, in contrast to their green cousins). When it’s their time of the year, the gravid female spiders cleverly weave silk strands along the length of a leaf tip, forcing the leaf to curl down and provide a nice little nook to store their eggs in. [“Gravid” is a fancy way of saying pregnant, when it comes to spiders. ]

Hunting spider with

I’ve mentioned before that hunting spiders are rangers, and they can lope quite fast on their long legs and stalk prey. However, once the female lays eggs, they sit themselves either on or close to the egg sac, protectively guarding it. It was the same this year as the last.

I’m not entirely sure how long the whole hatching process takes place, but spider growth is slightly different hatching chickens. Even after hatching, some spiderlings spend a few days within the egg sac/web, finishing a molt or two before they feel ready to leave and wander off. In the photo below you can see the first few spiderlings emerging from the nest.

31618368-Hunting_spider_with_hatchlings

I’m guessing here, but I think the mother provides a few “stock” silk lines to a few nearby locations, and the spiderlings do the rest: they start producing their own webs and strands very early, and scamper off in different directions.

31618483-Hunting_spider_with_hatchlings-2

Here’s a close up of the spiderlings. This is as much resolution I can get in the “wild” on my camera, I’m afraid.

31618714-Hunting_spider_offspring

To the naive observer (i.e. moi) it’s interesting how spider mothers take on a very protective mantle: guarding the nest from marauding insects and the like, but they don’t really coddle the hatchlings at all, they’re left to figure things out on their own. I’m really curious to know how freshly hatched spiders “learn” how to spin webs and strands.

Metadata Canon Powershot G11. ISO 80. f/4.0 at 1/320s | f/4.5 at 1/500s with flash | f/4.0 at 1/100s | f/4.0 at 1/160s. Edited using Picasa 3.8 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Taken in June and July 2011 at my workplace near Bommasandra, Bangalore, India.

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A Time for Mothers.

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