|Spiderlings just outside my front door|
So, here are the facts:
- First, I will cover how spiders mate. First, the Male will find a Female spider and walk onto her web. He will send small vibrations to let her know he's there.
|Close up underneath the leaf|
- The next thing is the dangerous part. As spiders are very territorial, the Female spider first has to decide whether to kill him. Some spiders (like the Jumping Spider) will do a courtship dance and some (like the Nursery Web spider) will even wrap up insects and give them as gifts!
- If the Female has decided not to kill him, then she will mate with him. When they have finished, the Female may still decide to kill the Male before he gets away. Hmm.
- Depending on the species, spiders will lay between 2 and 1000 eggs. That's a lot of eggs to lay in one sitting! (and a lot of spiders!)
|Close up of top of leaf|
- Most spiders will make a silk 'bed' and then cover the eggs with a silk 'blanket'. Finally, they cover the eggs with more silk to make the egg sacs.
- They are then hung somewhere safe and the mother guards them until they hatch. Most baby spiders will stay within the egg sac until they are fully developed.
- Once this happens spiders will either go off on their own and leave the eggs or stay with them until they leave the egg sac.
- A couple of species will take the babies on their back everywhere they go. If one falls off then she will even stop and wait for it to come back on.
|Tiny but perfect|
- Spider eggs tend to hatch very quickly. As you can see from the picture they emerge as perfect little mini spiders - these ones are only 1-2mm long.
- As soon as they are born they can spin their own webs and catch their own food - all instinctively! I wonder what a spider this small eats though!
- As they grow they have a bit of a problem as their skin is their skeleton. To grow they have to shed the old skeleton to get bigger. The old skin splits and the spider steps out of it. This can be quite difficult and there are some YouTube videos that show this happening.
- The new skeleton is folded and soft when they emerge and they have to expand it and then wait for it to harden. The spider is quite vulnerable during this process and some will hang on a silk line out of the way of predators while they do this.
- If you watch the YouTube videos (google spider shedding) you'll see it looks like quite hard work and these little spiders will have to do it a number of times before they become adults.