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Do all female spiders mate?

I've been watching what I'm pretty sure is a female Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus). She is still hanging around the underpart of the overhang on our patio. I have yet to see her with her egg-sac. She seems to be less and less active on her web, and actually just stays on her web for a couple days at a time, doing nothing. This moring, she is back to tucking herself in - right at the the top part of the side/underneath part of the overhang.

My question is this - is it possible that she never found a mate, or never had one find her? I hope that's not the case, because I'd love to watch her offspring emerge next Spring.

I posted an image of her in the 'ID Request' forum - the title of the picture is: "Is this a Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus)?"

Anything is possible:-)
I have never seen an orb weaver female AND her egg sac at the same time, in the same place, so it is conceivable she has one somewhere. Then again, she might not have ever received a suitor. That is an excellent question, actually, as I don't know if anyone has ever studied orb weavers in an urban setting where females set up their webs in places males might not 'think' to visit. Males are great wanderers, though, and I would think one would turn up at her doorstep (snare-step?) at some point. Nice of you to care:-)

Actually, I observed another near my front door, with 2 suitors!
Thanks for the response! I'm beginning to wonder if she is, indeed a Cross Spider. I havn't had my ID request responded to yet. But from what I've been told, she is one. For some reason, I thought that spiders always kept their egg sacs right near them, as I've seen in photos.

I'm going to be sorry to see her go - but she's still, quite literally 'hanging around'! :-) And we've already been through one or two frosts here in Cleveland. The pictures I posted on the ID request were taken just a few days ago. Either way, I truly hope she has deposited her eggs around somewhere. I've loved watching her, and will be sad when she goes to that 'big web in the sky'. ;_)

Tough question
Not all spiders lay their eggs in the fall, though I'm pretty sure Cross Spiders do.

Just about every combination you can think of exists for mating, egg-laying and overwintering. Some species even mate in late fall, the female storing sperm until the eggs are laid in spring. Spiders can overwinter at any stage of life, and reach maturity any time of the year (or at least, any time within the 'growing period' when food is available).

Cross Spiders tend to lay their egg sacs away from the web. If you start checking the cracks, seams and crevices around your patio, including around the doors and the edges of your siding/brick/stucco, I'm sure you'll find plenty of egg sacs and even quite a few hiding spiders.

However, the question of whether or not she has mated probably won't be answered until you can confirm the eggs have hatched.

She's still 'hanging in' there!
Thanks for your reply. I was under the impression that orb spiders do not winter, which confuses me. Unless she's holding out until the last minute, she's still here. Last night, I saw her out on her web. Today, she's 'tucked in', once again. Here in Cleveland, we've already had 2 frosts, so I'm stumped as to why she is still around. She is protected from the elements, where she is at. Today, we had a horrendous rain storm (it actually rained sideways), and she was well protected under the overhang of our patio.

I kinda have grown attached to her, and am hoping that she is wintering, if that is indeed possible with orb spiders. Like I said before, I'm assuming, and have been told, that she is a cross spider, but am wondering about that - she has had the same web up for about a week now (i thought cross spiders 'ate' their webs on a nightly basis).

Thanks again for the info!

Cross Spider ID, etc
I'm no expert, but I believe the reason you haven't got any response to your ID request is that Araneids can be quite tricky to ID from photos. Many of them look very similar, to the point that normal variation between individuals is more than the difference between some species. There are literally dozens of Araneus species in the area covered by BugGuide, and many more in related genera that aren't always easy to distinguish from that genus.

The spiders seem to know the difference, and there are features that an arachnologist can use to identify the species- but those don't usually show in pictures.

The few species (like the cross spider) that can be IDed from photos are the only ones that show up in most sources, which gives the false impression that things are simpler than they really are.

I would be careful, too about over-interpretation of comments about behavior in references: it's always possible that "recycling" the web is just a common behavior rather than the only behavior for the species, for instance.

Behavior in arthropods is hard-wired enough that it does tend to vary in line with genetic relationships- but the variations are often quite complex.

As for her chances for surviving the winter: spiders have very low metabolic rates, so they can survive for long periods in conditions that would kill vertebrates. On the other hand, they're relatively short-lived. I would expect a spider adapted to your climate to keep going until she slows down to a stop, or wears out.

It may be that she's not adapted well enough to survive a hard freeze, but only time will tell.

Thanks much for the input! I
Thanks much for the input! It's funny about this spider in question, though. I did see one or two other species of spiders that look something like her too, so I can see what you are saying.

Yes - time will tell. This will be her 3rd frost... currently in Cleveland, it's 34 degrees. I've just checked on her, and she is 'tucked in'. :-) If she doesn't slow down or wear out, I'd be thrilled to see her active again when Spring comes around.

Thanks again for educating me - I've learned alot by coming here. :)

If You're Really Concerned...
You know, if you're really concerned and interested in your spider, you can always try bringing her indoors and letting her set up housekeeping in an out-of-the-way corner. All the outdoor adult orb weavers here pretty much die out when the hard frosts hit towards the end of October and I've already lost several of my indoor 'pets' too, probably due to simple old age since they've all been huge by the time they start to slow down and then disappear, but two are still kickin'! Both survivors currently have webs strung across the tops of a couple of south-facing windows in my livingroom where they're no bother at all and like to hang out on the curtain rods even matches my decor, a creamy white-bodied 'fattie' with banded maple-coloured legs, a real designer spider! (Someone from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, posted a picture of one just like it a while back.) All the orb-weaving spiders I've ever kept in the house will eventually find and take freshly dead insects I leave in their webs and some will learn to race down to take an insect even as I'm 'sticking' it in so they're quite easy to keep fed even when you don't have any houseflies or other annoying indoor pests around. They also tend to stay high up and put once they've found a good spot to spin their really don't have to worry too much about these sorts of spiders wandering around and scaring people. So again, give it a try! Even if your spider only has a few more weeks to live in any case, I'm sure she'd rather have a shot at living out her alloted lifespan than chance freezing to death prematurely, plus which you'd have the fun of observing her close-up and personal in your own comfortable surroundings, possibly even over the winter holidays and beyond.

I got her in!
Well, I took your advice! *grin* Actually I thought about doing that a while back, but really never gave it serious thought.

I hauled out our ladder, took one of our glasses from the kitchen cabinet, along with a sturdy envelope, and performed the 'delicate' task. Now, mind you... while I'm not 'scared to death' of spiders, I did alot of noises that resembled Curley, from the 'Three Stooges' *grin*. I brought her in to our garage (attached and heated). I attempted to put her on the ledge of the garage window (a northern window). At first, she fell into our collapsable cat carrier, but I delicately coaxed her back into the glass, and semi-placed her on the window ledge.

After I was able to detatch her from the glass, she rested comfortably. I was hoping she would climb up the window, towards the top/underneath part of the window, but she chose to go to the underpart of the window ledge. I'm hoping that she will make her way back onto the ledge, and up the window. Where she is at now, she would be headed towards boxes and other stuff. *sigh*

Thanks much! I feel better, now that she is out of the cold (it's only 32 degrees right now). Funny how I've grown attached to her. We had another orb spider outside our front door. 'Ethel' has since disappeared. We lovingly named her Ethel, seeing as a male spider was forever hovering around her web (loving named 'Fred'). Where she went... I'm not sure. My guess is on top of our outside bathroom window ledge. I'm still wondering where her egg sac is.

And so it goes - here's to a long and/or happy 'rest of her life' too 'Charlotte'. :-)

Good For You!
I'm kind of relieved to hear your spider is out of the cold now too! I know just how you feel about getting 'attached' to her as well. There are always tons of spiders every summer out on and about the planted-up deck attached to my living room and I'm not normally sentimental about the fate of the adults come winter, but once in a while you see one who stays out in view and seems so stubborn about hanging on and trying to survive the cold that you can't help but feel a little pity for them. This year I had a pair like that, just two enormous fat spider gals who instead of crawling off to find shelter persisted on clinging to the outside top frame of the sliding French doors that connect my deck and livingroom where I couldn't help but see them, exposed to the frosts and birds and every bad sou'easterly rain and windstorm nature could throw at them until I couldn't watch anymore and just impulsively went out one afternoon to collect them in a shot glass and bring them in. Like yours, they both 'played dead' at first, then revived and sluggishly crawled away into hiding. A day or two later, though, I saw them crawling around above the windows, looking for suitable spinning sites, and they soon settled down and had their first webs spun. One of them is still with me, too--she's the white-bodied fattie I referred to in the earlier post! Even if she died tomorrow, that's still a whole extra month she wouldn't otherwise have had, so I'm still glad I brought her in.

And I think I may have just acquired a third orb-weaving 'houseguest'...saw a new quite large and dark spider busy building a web above an 'unoccupied' window last evening! I've never seen it before and where it came from I'm not sure, but suspect it crawled inside from the deck last Thursday--we had an unseasonably warm spell last week and I had the deck doors open for a bit for fresh air and to bring in some plants, and I remember seeing some juvenile spiders that had been coaxed out of hiding by the warmth hanging about the door sills. Just from the size of the leg-span and body on this new indoor one, it seems to be either a male or a freshly molted young adult female (I'll have a closer look tomorrow), but either way, it's definitely too old to just toss outside again as adult spiders don't normally survive the winters here. So--he/she is orb-weaver pet #3 for now. I think #3 will adapt to indoor living just fine, too. Tried giving him/her a grasshopper just before coming in to work earlier this morning and within ten minutes #3 had found it and was eating it, yay!

Do hope you have similar good luck with your own spider as well and do keep us posted if she livens up and builds a web and makes it. Even if she doesn't, well, you tried and no harm done and at least she died warm and dry rather than exposed to the elements.

Yup, she built a web!
She started to build a web around 10pm last night. In the upper right corner of the window. Now, she is resting, tucked in, at the very top part - neatly tucked in between the folds of the curtain. But that's been her typical behavior all along - in the day, she would be tucked in the area where the top of the overhang meets with the side of our patio wall.

It's funny - my husband and I have watched her throughout the Summer. He knew I felt bad for her, being out in the cold. When he called home from work yesterday, I told him that I had brought her into the house and put her in the garage. His response was a surprised 'YOU BROUGHT THE SPIDER IN THE HOUSE?' But it was a 'good' suprised response, not a bad one! He was shocked that I would actually do such a thing (not a typical 'woman' thing to do *grin*).

When he got home, he looked at her and made the comment of 'are you sure it's okay to bring that type of spider in the house?'. I think her somewhat large size intimidated him. Mind you, my husband loves nature and nothing really phases him... but he's used to seeing your typical house spider, and not the orb variety that hangs out in the garden.

I don't know if there's any 'food' around this house for her to eat though. But, in the meantime, at least she is warm! Thanks again for your input. If anything further develops, I will keep you all posted.

A Good Sign!
Sounds like she doesn't want to pack it in just yet all right! And ref. the food situation, don't know if you're handy to a city or large town, but pet stores selling live insects for food use for other pets, typically house crickets, are always an option...and I can vouch for these spiders liking house crickets! The half- to three-quarters grown nymphs (still wingless) seem to suit them best, and if you 'stick in' a freshly killed one between where your spider typically rests and the center of her web, it's pretty much guaranteed that she'll stumble across it sooner or later. Safest to use tweezers the first time you do this, by the way, just in case you have a really hungry spider who'll come rushing down the instant she feels her web being disturbed. Some even learn to pull insects right off the tweezers--they're certainly not dumb!

A trip to the pet store turned into quite a feast!
Thanks again for your tip! My husband dutifully picked up 10 or more baby crickets from out local pet store, yesterday. Today, I placed on on the lower part of her web. When I came back an hour later, it was gone. So... I placed another one, more closer to the center. I barely could get my hand and the tweezers down fast enough! She devoured it in less than a minute!

At least 'Charlotte' will die of old age, rather than freezing to death, or dying of starvation.

Sheesh - what an arachnerd I am!

Not sure about the trip to the petstore, but thanks for the tip!
Thanks for the info! I'm not sure if hunger is an issue with her or will have any effect on her. We keep our garage at a temperature in the 50's, most of the time - not sure if that makes a difference or not.

In the meantime, I will be seeing what I can do for her, if she doesn't catch anything. :)

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