Friday, 14 June 2013

The Life of a Nursery Web Spider

All photos were taken in my garden. The last photos were from last year, as the eggs have not yet hatched. I spotted the spider with her egg sack this week. I wish her success with her brood this year. Heavy storms are predicted for this evening, so I hope her fragile nest survives.

Nursery Web Spider Nest

What do we have here? Looks like a spider's web. Is someone at home? If I get on my knees and gently lift the leaf I can see two long legs, obviously two of eight, belonging to mama spider. If I lift the leaf I could even take a photo of mama spider sitting on a large round white sack which contains her children. Not just one or two, but hundreds. Some time ago she was sitting around wondering what happens next. Suddenly a food parcel, containing a nice large fat fly, was pushed over to her. She raised her many eyes, focussed, and saw the stately figure of a male spider. He pushed the food parcel and little closer with one of his many legs, and sent a message to say, "have a bite, that is my bride present and how would it be with us?" Perhaps the male spider just wanted to say "don't eat me, but eat my nuptial present". Now what lady spider could resist such an invitation. The moment she had been waiting for had arrived. Showered with food parcels, she decided to take a chance and what happened afterwards is a private matter between Mr. and Mrs. Spider.

  Nursery Web Spider with Egg Sack

Here is Mrs Spider again, but something is different. She seems to be sitting on a large round white silky ball.She takes it everywhere. Whether sitting on a leaf, or in her nest, the ball is there. She is careful that it does not get lost. This is what you get for accepting presents from Mr. Spider. You produce an egg sack. Mrs. Spider will soon become a mother. Of course, not an easy task. She is hoping that it will not rain or storm. That could lead to problems. She might lose her many hundreds of children in the egg sack. Now she often takes a walk with egg sack, sitting in the sun on a leaf, and perhaps thinking over two or three hundred names for her offspring. On the other hand she is sure that once they arrive, they will behave like any baby nursery spider.

  Garden Spider babies

And one fine day Mr. Spider realises that the time has come. She creates a work of art. Her special web for the babies. Nice and big so that they all have space. She tears the sack and watches as they emerge, seeing the light of day for the first time and using their little legs to spread. Her babies are not stupid. They might spread out in the web, but as soon as they realise that danger approaches, they group together again. Mrs. Spider is always nearbye, watching that nothing happens to her babies. One day they grow and then they can discover the big wide world of the garden on their own, but until that day Mrs. Spider is always near to protect them. As Mrs. Spider lifts one of her legs to wave goodbye, here is a last photo of the babies.

  Garden Spider babies


  1. Wonderful photos, Pat!! The ones of the spiderlets are fabulous!! I hope the coming storms don't ruin her nest. Let's hope this year's brood is as successful as last year's!!

  2. How wonderful this is!! Photos are amazing and so is the story!