Sep 4, 2007

Big Momma's Nest

Lisa sent me a great email detailing the adventures of a mommy spider that had made her home outside Lisa's window.

Lisa's first encounter with Big Momma involved a windy storm. The poor arachnid was being slammed against the window all night, so Lisa went out to check on her the next morning. The spider was fine, but she lost a leg in the process.

But the missing leg didn't deter Big Momma. No, she went on to make one heck of a nest. It must have been a taxing process, because Big Momma soon began to lose her strength and vitality. She slowly shriveled, and even lost another leg. But she never left the nest. That's one dedicated mother.

Some time later, Lisa checked on Big Momma. But the spider was gone, dead and gone. So Lisa assumed the vigil over the nest. Later she found another mommy spider having taken Big Momma's spot. She remained for over a week before she, too, made her way to the spider afterlife.

The nest survived the winter until one day, Lisa checked on it to find it having burst open and emptied. The baby spiders had scattered across all creation.
Lisa, I see in you the makings of the next E.B. White. Thanks for the photo and for the real-life drama.


Kritter said...

This is what parenthood will do to you, Wombat. Consider yourself forewarned.

Nebulous Grey said...

Aww, I usually find the idea of spider reproduction (really just the idea of the egg sack) a little disturbing, but this was almost cute! Besides the fact that, you know, the spider's apendages fell off and she died.
But other than that! Impressive mommy skills. Indeed.

IrishSean said...

What kind of spider is this? I have one in my backyard thats about 4 inches across and we've been trying to figure out what it is.

biology student said...

It is a spider of the genus Argiope, which contains the European wasp spider, the North American St. Andrew's cross spider and the Black and Yellow garden spider. It is possibly Argiope aurantia, but I'm not expert enough to be confident. Maybe someone knows where Lisa's home is? It would help to identify the species.

Jade said...

Spiders are great moms, but I've never heard of one taking over another's sac. That's actually really unheard of.

I have a feeling the mom just went to a secure spot, molted (regrowing the legs), then came back. That makes a bit more sense to me :)

Anonymous said...

I'm the one who submitted these.
I live in South Carolina. Pretty sure it was just a black and yellow garden spider. I had never seen one before until I saw this girl which is why I took such a large interest in it and decided to photograph it.

I have no clue about spiders other than they make webs and eat bugs lol.. so I thought the 2nd spider I saw was a different one since she had both of her legs. I wasn't sure if spiders could grow them back or not.
The "new" spider appeared only after a week give or take a day after the other had disappeared so not sure how long it takes them to regrow legs :)
The "new" spider was also visibly smaller than the previous and had slightly different markings which is another reason why I thought it was a different one...
Anyways.. I'm babbling!

Thanks for posting my pics!

Nebulous Grey said...

Jade: They can really regrow their legs by molting? Dang. Any recomendations for sites that explain that a little bit more?

Anonymous said...

i also find spiders creepy and revolting. i think its their long legs that make them so scary!

after reading that story, i actually felt sorry for mommy spider, and started to fee a little warm and fuzzy inside. LOL!

Jade said...

nebulous grey- Yes. All arthropods (insects, arachnids, and myriopods) can do it. Look for a caresheet on tarantulas and you'll probably see something about it.