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Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female

Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - Female
Enumclaw, Forested Unincorporated King County, Washington, USA
October 23, 2009
Size: Spider 14mm; Case 20mm
This female was huge when I first collected her. She dropped down from under the eave of the house nearly hitting me in the face as I was going outiside one evening. Her abdomen was so enormous that I immediately assumed she was going to lay eggs soon. So I took her inside and put her in a large jar upside down so that she would lay them on the lid and I'd be able to open the jar and 'inspect' things. She did exactly as I thought she would...within a day of capture, she made her egg case right there on the lid of the jar. It couldn't have taken her very long because there was only about a 3 hour gap of time that I didn't check on her. Her abdomen is now very small and shriveled looking and she firmly stands her ground over her eggs. I take the jar lid and set it on the counter for most of the day so she can get fresh air...and she never leaves it. She won't even move when you touch her.

The egg case is actually pretty hard and very orangish yellow. From looking at it, you would think it might be soft and a little squishy, but it's the opposite. I have always only seen A. diadematus egg cases from a distance and wondered how much of the case is eggs and how much is just silk. But now, even with the case in my hand, I am still left wondering. The mother spider's abdomen is literally only about 1/4 the side it was while pregnant (maybe even smaller). I never had a chance to get a photo of her before she laid the eggs because I thought I had a little more time...but she surprised me and laid them right away.

Images of this individual: tag all
Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female Mama w/Egg case - Araneus diadematus - female

Female A. diadematus & egg sac
Hi Mandy,

Do you happen to remember how long the female lived after she created the egg sac?

about 13 days
...but I have another female right now that laid her eggs in captivity on November 3rd and she's still alive today and guarding the egg sac. So that's about 28 days and she actually ate a cricket a few days ago. She still looks really skinny and doesn't move much, so I don't know how much longer, but I'll reply to this when she dies.

Thanks Mandy.

She died on 2/6/2012
I am usually so scatter-brained and easily sidetracked on things, I'm proud of myself for remembering to come back to this... the female A. diadematus that laid eggs on November 3rd ended up dying on February 6th. With how weak and shriveled she seemed, I'm surprised she lasted so long, actually. Between laying eggs and death, she managed to eat 4 crickets but she never really seemed to gain any weight. She stayed really shriveled-looking (even though she had plenty of water to drink, too). Makes me wonder if that's why this species only lays one egg sac; maybe their bodies get permanently damaged from the process or something? Not sure...

3 months
Good info. Well now we know they could last at least 3 months if the conditions are just right. I'd guess that they don't actively hunt after creating the egg sac.

I think you're right that they don't actively hunt afterwards, but I wasn't able to tell with this one. She definitely wasn't making an orb web or anything, but she was hanging on threads that she placed all around the egg sac. She pretty much ate all of the crickets I gave her right from out of the tweezers. I held the cricket near her and she would just turn around and start throwing silk around it. So I kind of let her cheat; she didn't have to work very hard for her food. Not sure if she'd still have eaten out in nature, especially without an orb web.
Oh, also, she was kept indoors the whole time. Not sure if she'd have lasted that long outside.

It's called the aging process, something you'll discover sooner or later. :-)

I hope not! I'm crossing my fingers that some form of preservation will have been invented by the time I start to shrivel. :-)

Great photography!
Can you imagine the enhanced value of BugGuide when ALL of the spiders are documented in this fashion!
Keep up the good work/play.

Thank you!
That really means a lot to me. I appreciate it. And Gayle, thanks to you...a lot of my photos have come out much better! (remember when you helped me with that flash issue?)

[EDIT] Hmm...I am still fighting with the white balance. Sometimes I don't really notice it until it's pointed out to me. I try really hard to get the right focus in the shots and then I forget about the rest of the settings. The first series of photos, believe it or not, are true to life colors I think. The spider and the egg case are quite orange. I will try to fix the last series of close-ups, they are incredibly blue like you mentioned.

The white balance can also be
The white balance can also be adjusted after the fact, as long as you have some sort of a neutral grey or neutral off-white available somewhere in the image to use as a reference --- one good reason for using a color-neutral background when not shooting "in nature".

Nice image.


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