Pale Yellow Cobweb Spider with Babies

2013 June 15

I was collecting some plum leaves on July 26, 2012 to feed the cecropia caterpillars[1], and found[2] this rolled-up leaf with a little spider inside guarding her egg sac.

She was white with a pale yellow abdomen, and on the underside of her abdomen there is a black stripe (which we can just barely make out here, through the webbing that she used to tie the leaf closed).

I thought she was a crab spider at first, but after her eggs hatched on August 4, 2012, they all came out of the leaf, and we can see that she has the long, spindly legs that are more characteristic of the web-spinning spiders.

And if we zoom in on her eyes, she has the eye pattern characteristic of the cobweb-weaver spiders in the family Theridiidae.

In fact, her face looks very familiar. So familiar that I think she’s a species that I’ve photographed before. She looks like Enoplognatha ovata. This one is just a lot thinner than the one I posted in 2009, which is no surprise because she just laid a huge mass of eggs, and then went without eating for a couple of weeks.

And speaking of the eggs, here is one of her little spiderlings.

So, she’s the light-colored morph of this species. They also come with red stripes running down the sides of the abdomen, but I’ve never seen that color morph locally.

She obviously lived long enough to see all of her babies hatched out. I don’t know if she was then going to die of old age, or if these spiders then go out, rebuild their webs, and eat until they’re fat enough again to lay additional egg cases. Some spiders will do that.

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[1] I haven’t posted the cecropia caterpillars yet, but they’ll be up soon. That’s going to be a long post, we have lots of pictures.

[2] When rearing caterpillars, it is a good idea to check over the leaves you are feeding them to make sure there is nothing predatory hanging about. Spiders in particular tend to lurk in rolled-up leaves, and would be more than happy to snack on a caterpillar. There is something to be said for washing the leaves before feeding, to make certain that nothing gets past you.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. katbird permalink
    June 15, 2013

    According to Common Spiders of North America, by Richard A. Bradley (University of California Press, 2013) this little spider was introduce to N. America from Eurasia. Wonderful photos and right on ID as usual here. Thanks.

  2. June 16, 2013

    Aww. They have their father’s eyes.

    Well, four of his eyes, anyway.

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