What are these spiders doing?
January 25, 2010 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Are these spiders mating?

A large, beautiful female spider had been living outside our dining room window for a few weeks. On the day I made this video, a scrawny male was doing what you see here for hour after hour. We never saw them successfully conclude their business. Our money was on the little guy getting eaten.

It was a sad Autumn day when she didn't show up to rebuild her web. She was an awesome pet.

We just assumed they were trying to mate. Entomologists of MeFi: were we barking up the wrong tree?

We live in Medford, MA. Any guess as to what kind of spider we "had"?
posted by e.e. coli to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Cool video, indeed! Nicely done. Yes, they are mating. Watching carefully, you can see the male spider occasionally inserting his pedipalp into an opening on the underside of the female spider's body. The pedipalps just look like extra legs near the spider's mouth so, when spiders mate, it doesn't look like when insects do it. Spiders are special.
posted by rhartong at 9:50 AM on January 25, 2010

Best answer: Great video. Yup, that's mating all right.

I love spiders and can relate to you viewing her as a pet. She's exquisite. Take heart: she probably withdrew from such exposure to lay her eggs; with luck next year you'll be able to enjoy the company (and bug-zapping prowess) of one of her offspring, a la Charlotte's Web.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2010

Best answer: As far as identification, it's very hard to tell, but towards the end you can see a little bit of patterning and color. It strikes me as a Common Barn Spider.
posted by sanka at 10:14 AM on January 25, 2010

Best answer: Here is some more Barn Spider Porn for comparison.
posted by Dojie at 10:35 AM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all of you!

Our spider definitely exhibited the behavior described in the linked-to article about Barn Spiders, wherein she'd bounce up and down excitedly when disturbed. She also rebuilt her web every day, much to our joy and astonishment. And what a delight to learn that it's a Charlotte. Couldn't have asked for better.
posted by e.e. coli at 11:55 AM on January 25, 2010

The easy way to tell if the spiders are mating: If they aren't, the little spider is lunch. Being a male spider is a pretty risky thing.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:52 PM on January 25, 2010

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