Hatching spiders


I documented the start of a new spider generation earlier this spring, but there is always more to see, and when I discovered not one, but two, additional mommy long-legs with egg balls up in the corner of the garage, I was definitely interested. Late in the season to be starting a family, but it’s not like there will be a disastrous winter inside the garage.

One of the interesting things we discover only by inspecting the photo (not in the garage itself) is the liberal festooning of shed skins of prior generations of spiders. All spiders grow by shedding their skins.

The empty husks are of all sizes. This one is pretty big.

Before we really get into it, here’s one of mommy’s legs. No matter how small things are, there’s always an infinitude of even smaller detail.

Here is mommy, holding an egg ball between her pedipalps. I believe the spirals visible on the eggs are the wrapped-around legs of the hatchlings, visible through the transparent skin of the egg.

I had rather assumed that the egg balls were held together by some kind of bio-glue. But we can see the webbing wrapping around the ball in this photo, and it only makes sense that an orb weaver would, well… weave an orb. Of course.

The other thing to observe in these photos is that the eggs are no longer round. Their skins are being pushed out of shape by the growing spider inside. It won’t be long, now. Notice (below) the eyes peering back at us from inside several of the eggs.

When I first noticed my little friends, the eggs were not really translucent, so I waited a week or so. This last weekend (the end of July) I checked every hour or so — what I would really like is to actually see the babies hatch out. And I did.

Still photos are fine, but this also looked like an opportunity for a movie (9 minutes, 73 MB download!). I have never shot movies with this camera before, so it was a learning experience; that, and finding a freeware video editor for the production process (VideoPad, and thank you very much!). Despite its undoubted amateurish qualities, I think the video is pretty interesting and worth the download.

I spent much of the evening shooting stills and movies. The movie shoot required me to hold the camera and the light motionless, as much as possible, while standing on tiptoe on a ladder. Hard work!

By the end of the evening, the ball was starting to loosen up.

The second spider was a few hours behind the first, and her babies weren’t as lively. But by the next morning, her eggs had all hatched, and she was holding a ball of babies.

And then, by afternoon, the babies had started to disperse, and mommy was looking proudly on. They will stay around for yet a few days, and mommy will defend them to the death from predators, the predators being, likely as not, other daddy long-legs spiders.


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4 Responses to “Hatching spiders”

  1. Erin Alexander Says:

    This is amazing and beautiful. And also completely disgusting.


  2. Bea Silver Says:

    Awesome photos!!!! QUESTION: Do the newly hatched spiderlings remain together motionless in the mom’s web for a period of time after hatching but before dispersing away from mom’s web?

    Two longlegs moms have hatched eggsacs in the past month at two different locations. I never witnessed the actual moment of hatching but I kept my eye on them daily so I know I saw the hatchlings very shortly after the hatching occured (within 24 hours). But each time, it looked like the babies might have been dead as they remained in a fairly tight knit grouping, motionless, with mom in her web. But clearly they werent dead when they hatched since they did hatch and they did move at some point to space a little bit apart from one another (not far apart though, but a little).Hence, my question is: ARE MY SPIDERLINGS DEAD OR ALIVE? Do they hang out motionless near one another in moms web, with mom, after hatching prior to dispersing to separate locations?

    Thanks so much for taking time to help me undestand what im witnessing. I really appreciate it and enjoy your photos and descriptions very much.


    Bea Silver


    • 86dave Says:

      Your little spiders are definitely alive. Motionless is one art that spiders have mastered. My conjecture is that they stay near Mom for a while because other spiders will eat them if given the opportunity. But that’s just a guess. Maybe they’re just slow going out to explore the wide world.


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