Saturday, August 25, 2007

Baby pictures

When the house spider's eggs hatched, 5 days ago, (We Haz Babies!) Wren wrote in the comments that she had only seen masses of spiderlings, never single ones. I have been watching ever since, hoping to catch one on its own.

Difficult. For the first 4 days, they huddled together around the egg case, so tightly that it was hard to see them with the naked eye as more than a grainy mass.

I tried to get photos, but they were just too tiny and too inaccessible, up in the dark corner, far above my reach, even from the stepladder, for clear shots.

Day two. Moving around a bit.

Day three. With artificial light.

Over the last two days, the crowd has been thinning and spreading out; their numbers were dropping. I kept looking for strays, but any that left the group just plain disappeared.

Last night, with only a couple of dozen babies left, I went out after dark with a flashlight and examined the web. Ah-hah! Tiny moving dots showed up along some of the strands. It took some doing, but I caught two.

Day five. Momma and the last of the brood.

Those guys are tiny! Inside, under the light, I could barely see them with the naked eye; they could have been dust motes, for all I could tell. Only with my hand microscope (60x) could I see them with any clarity.

So; no photos of single spiderlings. Sorry, Wren.

At that age and size, their abdomen is a pale yellowish tan, the thorax reddish. But they have their mother's fat belly, the darker joints on the legs, and the beginning of a pattern, tiny black dots on the upper abdomen. And under the microscope, I can see their eyes clearly, something I have never managed with the mother; she always seems to have them shielded behind the legs.

When I had done examining them, I realized that I could have gotten others all over me, prowling around the web; they are so small, I would never have noticed. Suddenly, I could feel them crawling down my neck and up my arms. Nothing but my imagination, but still, I had to shower and change clothes and wipe down the desk with alcohol before I could settle down again.

But what an adventure their life is! So tiny, and walking all that long, long way out of the mother's web, out into the world where danger lurks at every corner. The trees across the lawn are festooned with the webs of Araneus diadematus, several orders of magnitude larger than they and more than happy to snack on a mouthful of baby Achearanea. They will have far to go before they find safe places to set up shop.


  1. Anonymous8:47 am

    I can see why they're hard to photograph - you get an idea of the tiny size in the photo with the adult spider.

  2. Fascinating Pictures, although I'm a little fearful of spiders (just the big ones).

  3. Larry;

    I used to be (fearful of spiders). See Sleeping with Tarantulas.


    I'll try again with the next batch. I'll have to invent a new technique, though, I think.


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