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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Two months in the life of a mummy long-legs

Mother-cups, the daddy long-legs (Pholcus phalangioides), lives in the kitchen cupboard, above the coffee and cups. She has been holding her egg sac for over a month. Just hanging around, occasionally moving position, with her egg sac held firmly in her jaws. Junk from her feeding accumulated in the corner of the web. (Click on images for full size.)


The egg sac grew in size, and legs started to be visible in a few of the eggs.


And then the eggs were separating, with the eggs more visible. They were starting to hatch.


The next day, the hatching began. One tiny spiderling broke free and stretched out its long legs, leaving the collapsed white egg shell behind. 



It was nearly two hours before the next egg hatched, a pair of legs appearing on the other side of the egg sac to the first little spiderling. 



The next morning, and they were all bursting forth.


After 24 hours of holding the bundle of legs and bodies, Mother-cups suddenly started vigorously  kicking the spiderlings out of the bundle.


Then she decided to leave them to it and go for a wander.


She returned, after an hour of peace, and kicked out the remaining few spiderlings.


She then dropped the empty egg sac onto the coffee tin below. One little spiderling hadn't hatched.


All done! Mother-cups returned to her young and stood guard.


That was a week ago. They all hung around together. Then, this morning, after two months in her corner, Mother-cups and all her young were suddenly gone. I found her in the other side of the cupboard. The young have all dispersed.

I have at least another dozen females in the living area, many with egg sacs. After few years, and hundreds of young being born in here, I know that we will not be overrun with them. Something is regulating their numbers. Probably sibling-dinners.

This is going on in houses all over the world. All you need to do is skip the housework, leave the webs and watch the amazing behaviour of these incredibly docile, harmless creatures.

140 comments:

  1. First, I love that you leave her there to live and hatch her young. Second, great series! I hatched a sac of black widows, so I know all about sibling-dinners.

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  2. You are much more dramatic, hatching black widows! The free entertainment going on around every house in the world, and mostly ignored, is endlessly fascinating.

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  3. Great story I currently have a female with and egg sac in the corner of the lounge! (:

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    1. Hi Tom,

      Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know that you have pholcid company. I'd love to know what happens as you watch her.

      cheers,

      Lynne

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    2. Last year I saw a mommy longlegs with her egg sac in her mouth in my kitchen window frame. I went to get the camera and when I returned, she was gone. Then this year, I found a female in an open container and put lid on to observe. She looked pregnant and I wasn't sure I wanted dozens just like her. But she's been in their for months (I fed and watered her). I knew I had to let her go and read she wouldn't survive outside(I'm in Northwest U.S.) So, after reading your blog, I'm taking off the lid and let her go. Hopefully she'll help get rid of ants. She's not as colorful as your aussie mom. But she's cool and HUGE. Head and body are 2 inches long. Big girl.

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  4. Hi Mocknbird2,

    Thank you so much for this post. I am really keen to hear what happens next in this fascinating saga. More please!

    Lynne

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  5. I'm glad I found this blog post. I was trying to get an idea of how long to expect our cupboard residents to linger.

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  6. Love to hear more about your residents!

    I will be getting back to this blog as soon as the manuscript for my new book is finished. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with spiders.

    Can't wait to get back to our eight-legged friends!

    Thank you for commenting.

    Lynne

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    1. Hi I've got what I think is a daddy long legs spider who i had let live in a corner of the sitting room. The other day I saw what I thought was an egg sac and lo and behold the eggs have hatched. I counted about 20 +, should I just leave them to make their own way? I'm guessing mom will die shortly. Thank you x

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    2. Hi Unknown,

      You can let them be. Most will not survive. You will not be overrun with daddy long-legs. I have let all mine breed all they liked for years and have never had more than half a dozen in the house. I hate to think what happened to all the babies, but I assume they became dinner, and the older ones died.

      It's a tough life (and often a very short one) being a spider. Any spider who manages to reach maturity and breed is a real survivor!

      Lynne

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  7. I had a daddy long-legs living in the bathroom. No sign of any egg sac. One day there was another very small spider living in the same web, and the next day there was yet another small spider. Then the second one moved and set up housekeeping behind the toilet. The other two stayed together in the original web, shared a dead bug for a meal. Early this morning they were both there. Now, about 3 hours later there are still two but the smallest one seems to have been replaced by a medium size one! Did it possibly molt? or is this a different spider altogether?

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    1. What an intriguing scenario! I would love to help, but I have far too little information. Did you take any photos? Was the very small spider a young daddy long-legs? Did the original daddy long-legs share a meal with the smaller spider?

      If you have photos, then please let me know and we can work out a way to share them Fascinating! Isn't spider watching fun?

      Lynne

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  8. I don't know if the small one was a small daddy long-legs or not. The bug had been captured last week by the big one, partly eaten I think, then dropped onto the floor. Sunday the smaller one dragged it back up into the web and appeared to be dining. Now it's back on the floor. Then yesterday morning the smaller one either morphed into or was replaced by a medium one. Today what looked mid-size yesterday now looks full sized. Maybe it had molted and hadn't finished stretching into its new exoskeleton? I just have no idea! The other little one is still behind the toilet and is no bigger than it was.

    A couple weeks ago there were two full size ones living there. One was practically eye-level when you were sitting on the toilet and I didn't think my friends would deal well with that, so I moved him into the back room. Maybe he found his way back and the small spider moved out. It's anybody's guess!

    Yes, spider watching is fun, and so is watching my friends freak out when they use my bathroom!

    I have a photo of the original inhabitant, and one of the two when the little one first appeared, but the pictures aren't very good quality. I didn't think to take a picture yesterday when the mid-size appeared. Today they look pretty much identical. I hope they don't mate! I don't think I can deal with dozens of them!

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  9. Update...little spider behind the toilet has been replaced by a bigger version. The little one was there this morning at 7am. Could the one I moved to the back room have found it's way back?

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    1. This gets more and more intriguing. Where are you? Can you send any photos you have to lynne @ lynnekelly.com.au (without the spaces)?

      Lynne

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  10. Thank you so much for the images by email. It all makes sense now.

    The two spiders I can see easily are a male and female daddy long-legs. The female has the larger abdomen. I can't see the smaller ones clearly, but I would suspect that if they shared food that they are young daddy long-legs.

    The male will come and go - he’s probably visiting other females around the house which may well be hidden. They leave very fine silk all over the house and know what is going on through that. Don’t worry about an overload of young. You have probably already had them. They will disperse to get away from each other or they become sibling stew. I have had a dozen of so females throughout my house over a number of years but despite them all breeding, the total number never changed much. I can only conclude they ate each other as there was nothing else which would have been a threat.

    Thank you for the photo of the spider web. It is one of the garden orb weavers. I think I can see the actual spider on the beam, but I can’t be sure. They leave the web for the day and crouch at the edge of the web. They often have one foot still touching the web in case something gets caught. I think that’s what I can see on the right hand side of the beam with the little brown blob. They tend to change colour according to their surroundings. This is most likely Araneus diadematus:

    http://www.spiders.us/species/araneus-diadematus/

    Thank you so much for such fun!

    Lynne

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  11. I have a mama with an egg sack, I love daddy long legs but it is in my bedroom. I kinda want to let it be, but that's an awful lot of spiders in a small area. Not sure what to do. Leave it be or try to move it? Would appreciate any suggestions

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    1. Hi Kristin,

      Most of the babies won't survive. I had about six adults in the kitchen when these photos were taken. The number never really increased over a few years. They will eat each other if it's crowded, sad to say. I had hundreds of young hatch over the summer but the total number stayed about the same.

      I'd suggest that you just enjoy them!

      Thank you for commenting!

      Lynne

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    2. Hi,

      Wow.. I have just found a mom woth about 25 babies in my sons closet.. She has been tending to all the babies.. My first reaction was to dust them away but I couldn't.. Can we live among these 25 babies or am I crasy?? Will they go into all my childrens things?? I have phot os but not sure how to post.

      Thank you:)

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  13. I had a mama in the bathroom with a good 30 littles around her, only a few left now and she has disappeared. There are now around five large pholcus in my bedroom. For the past week I have been watching a rather dramatic scenario unravel with a particular two! One (the mummy) has seemed to have been guarded by another for sometime now. Any of the others that travel across the ceiling towards them are quickly and sharply fought with to go away. It has been like a TV soap drama! The spider then reclaims its place guarding the mother around an inch or two away from her. Last night I was watching them and could see her large sac. The other spider was being much more feisty with the others who were travelling over to her. This morning I have woken and she is surrounded by little babies!! :) I love these spiders in particular but I can't help wonder what the other spider is doing around her? Would you have any thoughts on this? Is it guarding and protecting her and the babies? Was it his sperm? Is he waiting to eat them and decided they were his dinner before they were even born? Others mothers I have seen, seem to just go through the process on their own. Any thoughts would be great! Thanks, Ella

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  14. Hi Ella,

    What a great story. Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I've just had a book come out and it has been very busy. But I really love hearing stories such as this. You describe it so well.

    I am assuming the guarding spider is also a daddy long-legs. I have seen them cohabit a lot, but I can't remember a male staying around when the female has an egg sac or young.

    I love the way you see it as a soap opera. That's exactly what I think about my daddy long-legs. They are so great to watch. I am afraid that I have no idea why the guarder is staying there. Can you update me on what happens next? This is intriguing.

    Lynne

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  15. Wow you people are really nuts. I have hundreds of these things and can not get rid of them. Time for a bombing. I've had thousands of tiny ones in my bathroom each year And yes they do bite. Kill every spider you see I do

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    1. If you think tiny creatures a minute fraction of your size are a worry, then I am not sure I trust your judgement that we are nuts! Killing defences harmless creatures out of fear is an irrational response. Sad.

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  17. Lynne - I'm so glad to have found your post! My 4 year old found a daddy long legs in his room a little over a week ago. He was so excited and ran to tell me that the big spider in his room had caught tons of bugs to eat. We went to investigate and discovered he had a mama and her babies camped out in his room. It's been really fun to watch the babies grow and slowly move out of the corner and venture around. The mama had been standing guard but has disappeared as of 2 days ago. My little guy is sad and thinks she left to die. Do you know if this usually happens? It sounded like yours was still alive. We discovered today there is a web super highway all around the top of my sons room. Did the mama spider make this super highway? We sure are having fun watching the little babies try to figure out where to go. And we are hoping to find another mama to watch.

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    1. Hi Andrea,

      What a fantastic story. Love it! My Mummy long-legs left the cupboard after having the babies and moved elsewhere. I managed to keep track of the various females a bit just by checking constantly who was still in the same web and who had moved. They do move around more than some of the other web builders.

      Yes, I suspect she was responsible for the superhighway - great term - there will be a great deal more that you can't see until it gets old and dirty. It is how they detect food even if it is a long way from where they are resting. One arachnologist told me that the leave fine silk trails all over the house and so will move to where they detect food.

      Time for you and your 4 year old to start hunting the house and see where she has moved to. Or find another one and say it is the mama. It is most likely that it will be her. I have had them change rooms in the course of a day.

      Let me know what you find!

      Lynne

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  18. Hi Lynne, I won't lie I have a fear of spiders but I have learnt to live with them or evict them if I can't (I never harm them). Around 2 weeks ago I found a rather large long legs in my walk in cupboard where my cats eat. It was have a good look around until it found a corner it must have decided it liked. A couple of days later I noticed the long legs was holding a sac & knew then that she was a mummy long legs. Every night when I've been in to feed the cats I've checked on her to see if she was still hanging around & she was, always in the same corner as the sac grew. 2 nights ago she started kicking up a fuss & it made me wonder if the little legs where hatching. Last night as I went in to check I noticed the sac had gone & there are lots of tiny brown spots on the ceiling, mummy legs is hovering over them upside down. It got me wondering if these creatures protect their young for a while after they've hatched so I decided to investigate which is when I found your blog. It was very interesting to read & now I know to expect them to move on soon. I thought you might be interested to read this. Thank you for the story.

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  19. Hi Simone,

    Thank you so much for writing. This is such a gorgeous story and I enjoyed it immensely. Love the term "little legs". I'll pinch that!

    Your story has reminded me how much I enjoy watching spiders. I have been so obsessed with my academic research and books, that I have had too little time for my eight-legged friends. Now that my new book is out, I have less pressure on my time - just as spring has come here in Australia. The spiders will soon be out and about and I will be out and about with them.

    Thank you again!

    Lynne

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  20. I just found your blog. I have a whole bunch of daddy long legs, but now I also have babies. I don't know what to expect and cannot find any info. I don't want to harm them, but I also don't want the spider population to explode. I currently have 10 adults in the living room. I also had one or two in the bathroom and the hallway, but they seem to be gone. I take it a lot of the babies will serve as food? I really don't need hundreds of daddy long legs in the house. Any advice Would be appreciated. Thank you!
    Tiger

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  21. Hi Tiger,
    I have had hundreds of babies born in my house and never moved them. The population never grew. I suspect they ate sibling stew. Expect that you will have the same experience and not end up with hundreds. I'd love to hear how it goes!

    Lynne

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  22. Ja, sadly all but three are gone. Oh well, the circle of life (and death)... Every morning I noticed there were fewer. It was interesting, though.
    Thank you for your reply.

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  23. Fascinating. I'd love to hear your updates in future if you continue to share your house with them, Tiger. My favourite at the moment is Violet - she lives under a shelf with African Violets on it in the bathroom. She is at least 18 months old and has bred, but there is only her in the bathroom now. She does have regular male visitors. I dread the day I find her dead, I've got so used to her being there. But she is an old spider now.

    Stay in touch!

    Lynne

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  24. Oh and now I have two more batches of babies... I missed all the excitement, even though I was watching them after the last batch was born, but did not see anything until today. And they are thinning out rather quickly as well...

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  25. Thank you for the update. A lot happens once you start spider watching! I look forward to hearing more. Things are quiet here being mid-winter. Violet seems to be my only daddy long-legs although I had about a dozen in summer. I assume there are mroe somewhere that I haven't noticed them.

    Looking forward to your next update!

    Lynne

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    1. Right now I have three batches of babies and two more in the making. I have recently counted two or three juveniles. In a way it saddens me to think that the main purpose of the babies appears to be feeding the adults... But I do have a lot going on on the ceiling of my living room....

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    2. You don't need TV anymore! Fascinating, aren't they? I have none - it is still winter. I am hoping that my female, Violet, who has now been in the same location in the bathroom for over 18 months, will breed. I will miss her when she goes. I have never had one so stationery for so long before. She has bred twice but there are no sign of her young.

      Keep me up to date, won't you!

      Lynne

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    3. Ja, now I have one more batch of babies and one highly pregnant spider. I am hoping to catch it when one gives birth, but so far no luck. I think they wait till I go to bed, how rude! And they don't like to clean apparently. They mess up their homes and move, leaving the uncleaned webs behind. Gee, what it that going to do to their property values?? The new mommy is currently expanding her home, though. She is super busy webbing. Shouldn't she be watching the babies???

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    4. Your report is absolutely delightful! I can't wait for our summer to watch some mroe spider antics. I shall await the next instalment.

      Lynne

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    5. I had the third batch of babies a couple of weeks ago and they are already gone. I watched mom closely, but missed the big event. Bummer! I think I have one more pregnant one. I also have a few, very few, juveniles of different sizes. But now that I am getting used to it, the excitement has slowed down.

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    6. Time to find some members of another species. A strong torch and outside, I suspect will be the way forward! I'd still love to hear about your daddy longlegs, though.

      Lynne

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    7. Ja, we had babies tonight. I knew she was due any minute. When I checked on her earlier tonight/late afternoon, nothing. I checked again a few minutes ago and the babies were there. Momma was busy doing something with her legs again, but I can't tell what they do after they have their babies... And no, I don't want to track down anything bigger than daddy longlegs, even though I do remember the day I had a party and a tarantula stopped by. Boy did my friends freak out! That was funny, even though they didn't agree. Some of my friends still remind me every so often...

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    8. I have watched the mothers help the babies hatch by kicking the egg sac. Quite a few species of spider help the babies hatch, so I think that is what they are doing. Happy for you to have alternative ideas! I wish we had tarantulas!

      Lynne

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    9. The day after I stated we just had our last babies, I found more. And I think I still have a couple of pregnant ladies... Oy vey!

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  26. Thank you for sharing this and all the detailed photos! It's wonderful you still repo d to comments years later on this post. Was super helpful for me and good to know I won't have a spider infestation.

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  27. Hi Adelyn,

    Thank you for your comment. I am just getting ready to start blogging on this and my author site again regularly. I have been super busy since my most recent book came out a year ago but I am finally settling down to being at home with my spiders (and husband). I have so many things I want to post here!

    Stay in touch!

    Lynne

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  28. I have been enjoying reading all above + photos - this AM I was bathing the dog on the deck and had the pleasure of watching a mommy with egg sac,actually pretty leisurely,leaving the flood - I know she got to a dry spot so I suspect she will do fine. I too do not disturb spiders in the house - too much fun to observe...and o yes, I have 10 tarantulas - they are the best pets!

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    1. You have just described my idea of a perfect morning and home. Thank you!

      Lynne

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  29. So glad I found this! My husband jokes I'm a bit weird because of my fascination over the spiders that live in our house- I've been tracking a Pholcus Phalangioides with her eggs above our bathroom door since she appeared 13 days ago. I found a female who had already had her young spread out around her not long after, so I've been excited to watch my egg holder's progress. She's currently got the eggs out of her jaws and is spinning them around, which I thought was so neat(I don't know about you, but I often feel like they won't move with me in the room, hah).

    Thanks for proving I'm not the only one who isn't an entomologist & loves this!

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  30. I am delighted to meet you! I get enormous pleasure out of my spiders and their dramatic lives lived in miniature. Mine don't tend to move when I am around - they are very capable of detecting us through the movement of the air even if their eyesight isn't great. Jumping spiders will see you and respond, but with Pholcids, it is more likely the movement they detect.

    But individuals react differently. Have you noticed that?

    Lynne

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  31. We had company last month...the 8 year old spotted the spiders living in the walk in shower, and knowing his 2 year old brother was terrified of spiders, happily pointed them out! The 2 year old refused to take a shower so I had to get the stepladder and relocate the two daddy long-legs to the back room. Don't know where they're living now!

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    1. Time to teach the two year old to name spiders and think of them as pets. If possible - easy for me to say, and I don't deal with an 8-year-old mischief maker!

      What fun family life can be. Thank you for letting me know,

      Lynne

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  32. Great idea, but unfortunately it wasn't my call!

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    1. Ah, reality strikes yet again! :)

      Lynne

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    2. Good morning, Lynne. I'm back! I have something 'new' happening on my ceiling! I noticed small dark spots that eventually disappeared or rather became very light spots to where they are almost invisible. Yesterday and today I noticed activity at two of those spots, one each day. I saw what looked like very small dots and one strand that looks like a spider's web strand hanging down with those little black dots (spiders? Insects?) causing a very large black knot to be visible. I don't know how to explain it. I have pictures but I don't know how to post them here. Any idea what it could be?

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    3. PS: after watching it for the past couple of hours, I saw several 'knots' form. I kept looking at it while I read something but I did not keep my eyes off it for more than a minute. All of a sudden they were all gone. I did not see them move or leave. WEIRD!!

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    4. How weird! I have no idea what they are. You are welcome to send me the photos, preferably not too large! My email is lynne @ lynnekelly.com.au without the spaces.

      cheers,

      Lynne

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  33. I have a bread that hatched, I have been watching her for several months and feed her another house spider. I wish I could keep them. My husband has had it. He is seriously creeped now. How can I relocate without harming the darlings?

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  34. The best way to relocate is to capture in a jar or glass and cover with cardboard to take outside. But daddy long-legs are very delicate and this isn't always easy. You can try getting her on the end of the broom.

    You don't need to feed them. They don't need much food and will manage it themselves even when it seems that there is nothing around.

    Good luck with it.

    Lynne

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  35. My one is on its second batch of babies. But there A ASEXUAL. How is she mating in a glass tank.

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    1. Hi Greenice,

      That is a spider speciality! The females produce eggs but they also store sperm. They can then use stored sperm to fertilise eggs whoever the conditions are right, even if they have used some of that sperm from the last sexual encounter before. I describe a huntsman who did this in captivity in my Spiders book. So it is not asexual, it is just arachnid-specula not mammal-sexual.

      Incredible critters!

      Thank you for your comment,

      Lynne

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  36. Hi Lynne, well, I read your post and all the comments and enjoyed reading it so much I figured I should contribute as well! College student in the PNW, noticed a daddy long legs up in a shielded corner of my dorm hallway a month or two ago and decided to let it be because it seemed cozy and settled. Fast forward to a week or two ago, and I became sure that her abdomen was expanding— mommy long legs! Interestingly, a few days after I began to suspect that she was growing in size another long legs appeared in the web that seems to be her mate. I don’t see him leave often, they seem to have a nice cohabitation going on and I have seen them interact by stretching legs here or there but they tend to stop once they notice me. A question— some days the female’s abdomen looks somehow pointier at the tip? What do you think this is explained by? What happens when she wants to get the egg sac out? Does it actually come through her mouth or just she just carry it from her jaws? Interested to see what happens next with this cozy little family, I’m glad I let her stay now that I’ve read all of the stories on your blog!

    Best,
    Betsy

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    1. Hi Betsy,

      Thank you so much for your comments. One you start watching individuals, your interest will just grow and grow. The egg sac is constructed in the usual way - from her spinnerets on her rear end. The eggs will be placed into it, again from her abdomen. Then she'll pick it up in her jaws. With a good torch, you can see the individual eggs with the naked eye. Amazing to see.

      I have found the males will come and go if there are other females around. They tend to get on well with the females.

      I am looking forward to hearing what happens next!

      I must add more to this blog. I am so busy with my more recent books and other blog that I don't get a chance, although I am still observing my beloved spiders all the time. So much fun to be had!

      Thank you for letting me enjoy your story!

      Lynne

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  38. Hi, thanks for the nice spiderblogging! If you revisit comments on this post, I'm curious what interactions you might have noticed within a 'family'? I've seen the mother chase off a hunting spider (okay, no doubt hoping to eat it, but protecting young is a side effect). It seems a plausible maternal strategy would be to provide food as well, but I don't know if that happens. Have you observed anybody eating each other?

    In our current ceiling-corner family I'm actually puzzled how they're all managing to grow. I do notice the decrease in number but I don't actually see fratriphagy or see sibling-carcass litter (though those would be small). I saw a gnat blundering around, everybody took a grab at it, but when one baby nabbed it nobody else had the chutzpah to horn in.

    Our pholcid family is up to I think day 4 or 5, and besides growing they're giving each other more personal space. I hope we can catch the dispersal to see how it goes, I'm guessing it's individuals wandering off but would be interesting if it's a group decision.

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    1. Pholcid family day 7: babies just about all dispersed. Maybe a dozen left, far out in the suburbs. Can't help thinking Mom's body language looks relieved.

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    2. Pholcid family day 8: I can hardly believe this. She's carrying an egg sac. There are still a dozen children around the edges who haven't quite left Mom's basement, and she's got eggs in her chelicerae?

      I have no clue what's going on around here. I guess the strange but mundane explanation would be that a pholcid just can produce eggs this fast, a week after the last ones hatched. Double-size batch in abdomen? But I can't help more wild theories, like is it possible those babies in her web weren't hers, they were her (unknown, invisible) sister's or something? Adopted?

      Because there is one interesting fact in hindsight, that we never noticed her holding the previous egg sac. Which seems odd, since we do look at her in her corner most days, and today it was not subtle that she seemed weird-shaped in front. (We had wondered if maybe they can set their eggs down instead of holding them.) Which now suggests the possibility that maybe this visible one is _her_ first. Leaving that passel of babies to be explained.

      It's a choice of which improbable combination,
      1a) she had a previous egg sac which we didn't notice & she made two in a row
      1b) they sometimes stash their egg sacs & she made two in a row
      2) those babies weren't hers & she didn't blatantly devour them
      I guess until constructing something more plausible I have to go with (1a), but huh. Strange stuff.

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    3. An intersting observation and I can't give an answer on what happened. Time to watch closely over time and see if you can solve the mystery. What wonderful free entertainment!

      Lynne

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  39. Hi Eli,

    Thank you so much for your comments. I really want to get back to spiderblogging now that I have submitted my new manuscript to my publisher. The three books since "Spiders" have been very demanding, but spiders are still my great love!

    I do think that the mother protects the young until they shed their first skin, and then they are on their own. I have noticed this with my blackhouse (Australian) and America (introduced) house spiders as well. Then they wait for the right weather and disperse. Inside the house (only the daddy long-legs) there never seems to be an increase in population over time, so something (maybe siblings) are eating them.

    The young can't feed before they shed their first skin. I don't think daddy long-legs feed communally, although I have witnessed it with the American house spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) whose young stay around a lot longer. I have found them everywhere - but they are often pale and so you see the messy webs but don't realise they are inhabited. Parasteatoda are wonderful to watch - they do so much out in the open!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasteatoda_tepidariorum

    I've never observed babies eating each other, but the arachnologists report that it happens. I have never seen the babies eat anything so am intrigued by your report. Wonderful!

    I have rarely seen where they have dispersed to in the house. They are so delicate as babies. Occasionally I'll see one and hope that it grows. Love your observation of a relieved mother!

    I'd love to hear more of your observations.

    Thank you!

    Lynne

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    1. Strange observation attached on to the previous!

      Oh that's interesting, they molt before they eat? We wondered how they are all gaining visible body size when it doesn't seem possible they can all have been catching prey. Maybe actually it's the same innards in a bigger and more opaque skin. We did see one catch a small insect but can't confirm it actually ate it.

      The offspring have lost numbers one way or another, but some are visible setting up web in different corners and different rooms.

      Delete
    2. (A species of pholcid, _Crossopriza lyoni_, where they saw that "spiderlings would share a single mosquito or eat a mosquito wrapped by the mother spider".
      http://www.americanarachnology.org/JoA_free/JoA_v25_n2/JoA_v25_p194.pdf )

      Delete
    3. These are fascinating observations - from years ago. Unfortunately, they get buried on this site when there are a lot of comments and I miss them. I wish I had seen this earlier. Thank you!

      Delete
  40. So fascinating. Aren't they wonderful to watch and get to know as individuals?

    How interesting about them sharing prey. Thank you so much for sharing that.

    Lynne

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  41. Hello! Advice please? I have a similar scenario playing out to the first comments on the thread. There’s a mummy in the corner of the ceiling in the hallway that has hatched around 20 babies, at first I thought she had caught flies! We have a cleaner coming on Tuesday to give the house a real deep clean. I want to tell her to leave them there as they seem harmless but I have this nasty feeling she may hoover them up! I will tell her anyway, but there is a bit of a language barrier and I am not sure outside of this thread that all people have care for spiders (I often remove them from the house if there are too many with the old cup and paper trick), if they are still there on Tuesday before she comes is there anything I can do to remove them safely so she doesn’t hoover them up. As I say I will ask her not to but she may not listen and I won’t be here

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    1. How sad! The only alternative is to collect them in a jar or on a broom and take them outside. The fear is hurting them given those incredibly delicate legs. So sad that most people don't understand the natural world.

      All the very best with it!

      Lynne

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    2. So you can just let all 25 of them be? I found a mom with 25 babies .. My first reaction was to sweep them .. I cant do it! Its facinating how the mom tends to all the babies

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    3. I am delighted that you are fascinated. I have often had hoards of baby-long-legs and never had an oversupply. They seem to disappear, probably as food for other spiders including siblings.

      Enjoy your observing and please let me know what happens.

      Lynne

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  42. The momma long legs in my bathroom sat with her sac for about 3 weeks before the little ones hatched. They hatched about 2 weeks ago, and they’re all still hanging around. I counted, and all 24 babies are still alive and well, cohabitating with momma. It made me curious: do the babies eat? Momma has eaten a couple small moths and today she caught a crane fly that was quite a bit larger than she was, but the babies don’t seem to take any interest.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I am so sorry it took so long for me to notice this comment. Life got over-busy.

      This is fascinating. The babies won't eat until after their first moult which then leaves them with proper mouth parts. Then they'll disperse or they might eat each other.

      That's why the babies aren't sharing Momma's food.

      Let me know what happens. I love people's spider watching stories!

      Delete
    2. A couple days later, they scattered throughout the bathroom and beyond. Now I have a new issue: momma spider keeps taking up residence in my bathtub. I’ve relocated her several times, and she always comes back. Any advice on finding a better spot for her and getting her to stay there?

      Delete
    3. That’s super interesting, by the way, about them not eating until they molt. I would have thought they would have to eat before they molt, like caterpillars, but I guess they’re different critters.

      Delete
    4. Very different critters - but also the variation between spider species is huge. Endless fascination available for anyone wanting to watch spiders!

      Delete
  43. I've been watching this long legs in my bathroom for a couple months seems like. Had the egg for at least a couple weeks and they finally hatched I noticed today.
    When I was little I used to name all the daddy long legs around "Christian" and Christian would always have babies. We would have about 10 Christian's show had 20 other little Christian's. I was so happy by it all and would never let my mom kill them or move them.
    Well I was so excited, i was standing on the counter yelling to my boyfriend in the living room, WE HAVE BABIES! But...the babies look like they're all dead?? They are very fuzzy looking and are not dark or moving at all. Mom is still around. Looked like she was leaving when I came in tonight to check on her but she quickly went back over by her babies when I walked in.
    Is it possible they are alive looking like this?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. What a wonderful story!

      The babies won't move much until they moult and shed their first skins. They can't eat or do anything until then. I suspect that they are still alive. Keep watching!

      Thank you for the story. Enjoy your spider-watching.

      Lynne

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  44. Greetings,
    I happen to be trying to videotape the Mommy-L in my bathroom. Good closeups and as it turns out, not much action. As I've read here, they mostly stay quite still, even the babies. -> Not much action even when taping them in time-lapse at 1/30th speed! (Every minute of their action-packed life takes two second of viewing) I've been rolling video on them for about two days without much to show in movement. I think a two-day time lapse of a geranium flower would have more action!

    I did happen to arrive just as the mom started to move and expand her web in all directions. I imagine to give her babes a bigger area to venture. But, alas... no one is venturing anywhere.

    Question:
    Do these spiders move in the dark more often than in the light? I have a light on them (not too direct), in order to record, and I wonder if that is stifling their activity.... When I first saw all the babies had appeared I noticed a lot of tiny movement going on. But since then, barely a twitch among the 30 plus clan.

    I'll scan through the footage in a day or so and collect the "thrilling action scenes" where one of them shifts a leg or something! **If anyone would like to see it, I can send a link. Until then, just sit still... like these Zen spiders...

    -Ralph -> in San Diego, California.

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    1. They certainly prefer the dark. It is why they are usually found in dark recesses. I suspect that your light is worrying them. The Mummy long-legs of this story was in a cupboard and I filmed her during the day without putting light on her. But all of mine have been active - moving a lot but not in bright light.

      I'd love an update!

      Delete
    2. Mine are pretty active as well. Mom is always wandering about and babies are just hanging out
      Always I'm different spots, they don't move when I open the cabinet though.

      Delete
    3. What delightful free entertainment!

      Delete
  45. hi! i’ve got what appears to be a pregnant cellar spider (daddy long legs spider) and shes been my friend for awhile sleeping next to my bed and she spun a cocoon last night or pretty recently and there might be eggs inside, though I’m not sure
    What I am sure of is that her bodys bigger and she spun a cocoon, which shes protecting with her legs
    my question though, I don't particularly want baby spiders crawling onto my bed especially since they will probably die, should I try and relocate them to my garage or preferably another corner of my room since theres tiny bugs in my room that need to be eaten
    Or maybe just let them be.....? And see how lucky they are?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Apologies for taking so long - a little battle with google letting me in! All solved now.

      I have had hundreds of baby cellar spiders in the house and they have never come down to the bed. Plus the number of adults never seems to increase. I think they must eat each other or get outside somehow. So let them be and enjoy their company! And see how lucky they are!!!

      Lynne

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    2. no worries! thank you! the spider actually disappeared, possibly under my bed but i just noticed a new one in the corner near my door as well as a little spider in the corner outside the frame so i’m in good company lol

      Delete
    3. Enjoy your company - all spider-watching entertainment is free!

      Delete
  46. I was staying in a holiday cottage for a week and saw a mummy long legs and spiderlings for the whole week I didn't seen any of them move - I was worried they'd all died somehow. Did yours move much Lynne?

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  47. The females tended to stay pretty still on their webs. The males moved around, but most of what you will see are females. If they are dead, their legs will be curled up. They have hydrolic movement rather than muscles like ours and so without the fluid pressure, their legs just curl up.

    I hope she is alive!

    Lynne

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    1. Thanks so much for the info Lynne - her legs weren't curled up so hopefully everyone was ok!

      Delete
  48. Hello i just found this blog and really enjoyed it. thank you for your stories. I have 2 mummas in the house at the moment, one just had her eggs hatch about 5 days ago and i tried to help one that hadnt come out of the egg sac that she dumped but it died sadly,and i found a new one holding her eggs thats sadly positioned itself in my kitchen which is going to be awkward when they hatch as my partner already hates all the spiders i have around haha. I love watching them and seeing what they are up to. I considered moving the kitchen one but dont want to risk her dropping the egg sac. Have you moved them before and if so have they held on ok?

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    1. I am so sorry that it has taken so long to reply. Google decided to refuse my comments, even though it would allow me to delete and approve posts. Weird. But I've found a work-around.

      Thank you for these stories. I find spider stories so interesting!

      I have not moved a daddy long legs with egg sac. I did move a wolf spider with an egg sac and she did drop it but found it again. But it was pretty close to her.

      I would worry about moving her. Is there any chance your partner could watch her and maybe learn to appreciate spiders? I know that is asking a lot - and this answer is probably too late anyway. The babies will disperse and your partner will probably not notice them anyway. They are so tiny and most will not survive.

      Apologies for the delay again!

      Lynne

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  49. My female daddy long legs had her egg hatched last night and she lives in the toilet too

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    1. As for the previous comment: I am so sorry that it has taken so long to reply. Google decided to refuse my comments, even though it would allow me to delete and approve posts. Weird. But I've found a work-around.

      I am jealous. I don't have any breeding at the moment. Enjoy watching the outcome!

      Lynne

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  50. Great post!
    I have some spiders and one one of them had eggs. But only 2 hatched and i think she may have eaten the rest of the eggs? I found the egg sac empty on the ground and her 2 babies hanging near her and no trace of the rest of the eggs wich had not hatched. Is this normal?

    ReplyDelete
  51. I apologise for the delay. For some reason, Google lets me do everything except comment. I now remember the workaround!

    Sometimes it is just a young spider and she won't have many viable young. Some may have already left. They float off on tiny threads of silk, but not all at the same time.

    I've watched them a lot and never seen the mother eat them, but that doesn't mean they don't. Despite lots hatching, the overall number of adults in the house doesn't grow, so something is eating them.

    So much to observe and learn with spiders! I wish I could answer more definitively!

    Lynne

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  52. I’ve loved watching them since I was a kid. I especially like when they descend. They do that because they’re most likely thirsty. I spray the wall with a little water, and watch them crouch to drink. Then they go back up.
    They will scavenge mites, dead insects, worms, aphids, other spiders and anything too small for us to see on the wall or cupboard.
    They’re indoor pest control!

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely. What fantastic observations! I wish most people were as sensible!

      Thank you for commenting.

      Lynne

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  53. Hi I am glad I came across your site. I always like having a little friend hanging about because the indoor pest control. I have had one in my room in the corner and noticed a white round thing which im assuming is a egg sac. Don't get me wrong I love having one or two of these guys in my room but kinda freaking out about babies running around my small room. How many babies usually hatch? How long does it take for them to hatch? Can I move my daddy long leg and put her in a place that isn't right above my bed? I just don't want babies crawling around me away night. Hopefully you can help. Great site and info

    ReplyDelete
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    1. So sorry about the delay in replying. I have hit overload with work.

      Lots of babies will hatch, probably about 2 weeks after the egg sac was formed. The babies will not crawl on you. They'll head off across the ceiling. Few of them will survive. I have had daddy long legs in the house for years, but the total population doesn't seem to increase. I've always had them in the bedroom and none have ever crawled on me.

      Just enjoy them!

      Delete
  54. Wow your super cool, I have the same thing going on in my rv camper above my kitchen sink. I will now let them be. I have lived next to her for a year, I believe she is a friend. I also have 2 blackwidows outside that I check in on occasionally. Live and let Live...I thought I was the only person that saved bugs...nice to know you

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    1. That all sounds lovely. I am delighted when I learn that there are people like you in the world, Matt!

      Delete
  55. How long does it take for the babies to leave the web, on average? I have a pet carrier with Mama spider & babies hanging out in the lid; but need to take the cat to the vet pretty soon. What to do, what to do. ??

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    1. It is usually a week or two. When you need to take the cat to the vet, just take the carrier outside and knock it firmly so they are knocked off onto the ground, preferably in or near an out building or veranda. They will find their own way.

      Does that sound possible?

      Lynne

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  56. Oh, definitely. We have a carport built onto our house with rafters and nooks and crannies and firewood and all sorts of places to hide. I just hate to disturb them because they look so content where they are. ;) ha

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  57. Hello, Thank you so much for your pictures and descriptions! I've lived with generations of longlegs in my bathroom, but this was the first time I'd seen one with an egg sac. I was calling him "Jon" but I guess I'd better start calling her "Joan." Anyway I was a little worried but your site set my mind at ease. Thank you again,
    Norio.

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  58. Dear Norio and Joan,

    Long may your coexistence last!

    Lynne

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  59. Hey there! I was researching cellar spider behavior and stumbled on your blog.

    I am wondering if you know why my bathroom buddy sits with her(?) rump pressed firmly onto the ceiling. It's not enlarged, but could it be that she's in early pregnancy? Is she feeling for vibrations?

    If she's disturbed she'll creep very slowly, extending her front 2 legs to feel around, and she'll press her rump into the ceiling a couple of times before settling onto one spot. Once she settles, she usually presses her rump onto the ceiling again and just sits there.

    I have some photos if you're interested. I find spiders extremely fascinating and have several species in the house that I watch everyday. This lady is the 2nd to inhabit my bathroom. I'm pretty sure the other one is a barn funnel weaver, but I rarely get to see anything other than the tip of her front 2 legs poking out of the funnel she's made behind our medicine cabinet.

    I have photos her her, too.

    Thanks for the fascinating blog!
    -Danielle

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    1. How intriguing, Danielle. It is delightful to hear from another spider-watcher. I have not seen the behaviour you described for the cellar spider / daddy longlegs. I have seen barn funnel weavers in the US (Tegenaria domestica). I would love to see your photos. Can you send then to lynne @ lynnekelly.com.au (without the spaces).

      Lynne

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    2. Thank you so much for the photos, Danielle. I think that your cellar spider may be a male. Its abdomen is very thin. The males tend to have thin, box-like abdomens and the females are more rounded. It is easier to see the difference when you have a pair together.

      I think the rump-down is that he (or she) is laying down silk. They spread silk all over the ceilings. I was shocked when some baby golden orb weavers were blown into the house near the front door and, within about half an hour, there were six daddy longlegs feeding on them. I collected as many of the babies as I could and got them outside before the massacre did them all in. I asked an arachnologist how the spiders had come from different rooms and he explained that they lay a thin web all over the house and can detect movement across long (in spider terms) distances. Amazing, aren’t they?

      So I think that is what your guy is doing.

      And thank you for the information on your conclusion about the funnel weavers and why you hjave now decided that they are Southern House Spiders:

      "We also found another female of the same species taking residence in our kitchen very close to our common house spiders.

      http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/spiders/southern_house_spider.htm"

      It is so good to hear such enthusiasm from a fellow arachnophile.

      Lynne

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  60. I sent you the photos of my spindly little friends!

    This morning when I came into the bathroom I saw the other spider in full view on the outer part of her funnel web! I was able to get such a good look at her and now I think she might actually be a southern house spider/Kukulcania hibernalis. She has very long pedipalps and velvety gray hair all over her body.

    http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/spiders/southern_house_spider.htm

    Thanks for taking interest in my little friends and for this amazing blog!

    -Danielle

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    Replies
    1. Hi Danielle,

      I know we have been in contact but I thought that I'd better reply here as well so others can see your comments and links. Thank you for the photos and story!

      It is all going so well!

      Lynne

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  61. Love the forum! I've had DLL's in my bathroom corners since we moved in a year or so ago. It's amazing to watch their behavior. They seem to play musical chairs at times (all except the big mama) her abdomen has grown quite large over the last couple of weeks so I'm sure I'll be seeing an egg sac soon.
    I absolutely love watching them and there is no doubt they are part of our family. Reading all of the posts eases my mind that I'm not the only one with a fascination with these little critters!

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    1. Delighted to make your acquaintance and know that there are some spiders in the world's houses who are safe and appreciated. Now to convert everyone to our way of thinking!

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  62. So, a couple of interesting developments;
    There has been one male in the web with my lady for the past couple of days. Least night, a second beau appeared and there was a duel that lasted for quite some time. The winner became very aggressive with my mama, chasing her all over the web while the loser sat up in the corner watching and occasionally trying to approach the other make for another go.
    While this was going on, I looked in the opposite corner where I noticed sun egg sac (I knew I was going to see one soon).
    It is sitting in the corner unattended I believe because if the drama that's unfolding in Mama's house. Might she have had the egg sac with her originally and moved it because if possible imminent danger?
    I'll be honest, last night when I was watching the one male harassing her, I wanted to flick him to kingdom come. I never would of course.. They know what's going on, I don't!
    It's fine how attached and protective you become to the delicate little creatures! I have pics but not sure how to post them.

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  63. I did learn that the female will sometimes keep her egg sac in a corner by itself in order for Mom to eat or mate which is what going on in my bathroom now (the mating). There has been two males with her for the last several days and her corner has been very very active with one male in particular being very busy moving all over the web. Things got pretty intense with a mating ritual that I don't believe was completed by either male as they are both still hanging out with her.
    As I understand it, the male will leave entirely when the deed is done.
    Can't believe how much a part of my day they are and I have babies to look forward to as well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for such wonderful updates on the ongoing drama in the bathroom. I find the actions on my spiders' little stages enthralling. Please keep the updates coming!

      Lynne

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  64. This morning, Mama lost her tummy and is now carrying an egg sac around with her, which is dark. I'm guessing the sac in the opposite corner, which is unattended is not viable as it is almost pure white.
    One of the males lost a leg sometime in the last day and they are both still with her in the web.
    So interesting that her tummy is completely flat once again. What drama!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it fantastic to have predicted what would happen and be able to see such details in the natural world. Who needs TV when you've got spiders?

      Lynne

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  65. Oh snap! Of the other two, one was a female,s who stayed behind and now has get own egg sac. She's living just two feet away from Mama. I hope previous posts were right about the population not increasing.. My bathroom is only 8X8 feet! That's going to be about forty or fifty spiderlings! Egads!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you open a window? Or collect some babies carefully and put them outside? If not, they will eat each other or be eaten by an adult. Or you night just get to enjoy an overcrowded bathroom - but I suspect that it will only be until the little ones moult and then they are able to eat - sibling stew.

      I look forward to the next update!

      Lynne

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  66. I've been watching a mummy long legs in my bathroom for the last month! Now her spiderlings have dispersed and she's also disappeared. I hope she's okay! Why does the mother long legs relocate after her spiderlings have left the nest?

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  67. Fascinating to watch, aren't they? I don't know why they relocate, but they also have a short lifespan, so she may have reached old age. Mine constantly relocate, and I haven't been able to work out why. Keep watching and maybe you'll work it out!

    Lynne

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  68. Well, Big Mama had her spiderlings yesterday. Every one hatched and she had 38!! I noticed that the egg sac was out of proportion and larger yesterday morning so I knew it was going to be soon. I was lucky enough to be home as they hatched. Mama was very busy doing something to the web and attending to the babies. It was fascinating and my husband even joined me in the bathroom to view the event.
    There is a smaller female in the opposite corner that should be having hers sometime next week.
    Ugh...I may have to move to an outhouse LOL!

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  69. What a fantastic experience! I am envious. Spiderlings are the cutest little critters. Enjoy yours for the short time they will be around.

    Thank you for the update. I look forward to the next instalment.

    Lynne

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    1. I have a mom and her spiderlings in my lounge I check.on them.everyday

      Delete
  70. I know this is an older thread but my bathroom female is huge and getting ready to do this exact same thing! She is now behind the full length mirror where she never ventures. I believe it's time!

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    Replies
    1. How intriguing. I've never noticed what they did when laying the eggs. Enjoy the drama and entertainment!

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  71. Thank you! I have been cohabitating with many long legs. Today I saw that Fred who lives over my bed has a bunch of babies in his web. Maybe Fred isn’t a boy ;). I was going to take them outside but after reading this I will just leave them there. Thank you everybody for your post and they have been very interesting to watch. The size of the spiders they eat our impressive!

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  72. Thank you for your comments. I am delighted that Freda and her off-spring will get to stay. Enjoy!

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  73. Wow I love this thread. I’ve always just let spiders be in our home. Some fall victim to our cat. But when I was showering today I noticed the spider that has made the ceiling corner home for the last like 6 months maybe longer had 6 little spider babies. She never wanders down towards me but today she was. Maybe she was protecting them or just looking for food. So cool to watch.

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  74. Thank you so much, Tessa. What a gorgeous story. They are the best entertainment - free and natural and fascinating!

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