Photo Adventures with Curiosity and Learning

April 8, 2007: Watching the infant Nephila maculata grow

For several weeks I have been watching these little orange spiders. They live within the web of a large adult female Nephila maculata. Initially they were so small that I thought they were infant males but the leg color was all wrong. After several weeks of coexisting in the same web as an adult, it seems that they are infant females. In the past, there has been direct sun light and the reflection from her polished orange abdomen was too intense to see what was really happening. Today is overcast and it is clear that there are reflections of the sky on her abdomen.

April 30: With the assistance of Google Images, I have identified her. She is Argyrodes flavescens - a kleptoparasite that feasts on the silk of other spiders. Joseph K H Koh has written a very nice book entitled A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders

Its time to check up on the little orange spiders. Today, there are new markings and I thought that these were infant Nephila maculata - though I was not totally convinced. Turns out that I was wrong. The little ones are Argyrodes flavescens. A view of Mom (?) and her golden silk web with a number of small Argyrodes flavescens. These little ones are actually kelptoparasites and harvesting the golden silk that was prepared by what I incorrectly thought was "mom". I poasted on on Flickr, this image with annotations (mouse over the image).

Nephila maculata

Reflections - it was a cloudy day and in the past, with sun, the reflection from her polished abdomen saturated the image. Today I got a much less intense reflection and can see the detail. The perimeter of the reflection is that of the treeline while the middle of the reflection is that of the clouds with a small line of blue sky.

apr 08 7068 infant reflections

a closer look

apr 08 7068 infant reflections close

She is doing something - as indicated by the blurred front right leg

apr 08 6962 infant nephila

Here is a closer view

apr 08 6965 infant nephila

A clear view of her head

apr 08 6970 infant nephila

Life must be tough. Here is mom but with two missing legs. Last week she only had a single missing leg

apr 08 6982 mom nephila

The little one with the same golden silk web

apr 08 6999 infant golden silk

Here you can see a small silk thread from her spinneret that connects her to the web

apr 08 7024 infant golden silk

A different position - a closer view

Infant Nephila maculata

More reflections

apr 08 7109 infant reflections side

Here she is manipulating a small clump of something

apr 08 7141 reflections

The acrobatic positions and whatever she is doing - well the variations are endless

apr 08 7143 reflections

Another position - as if she is simply suspended in mid air

apr 08 7144 web reflections

A dew drop and reflections

Infant Nephila maculata

More reflections

apr 08 7088 reflections

From the side

apr 08 7101 side reflections close

apr 08 6959 infant nephila

From a different position

apr 08 7073 reflections close

Mom and one of the Argyrodes flavescens , to the right of her left rear leg

Nephila maculata

and Mom from the side. Note that directly above her is one of the infants and then halfway between her spinneret and the little one is another (out of focus) little one.

apr 08 6993 mom nephila golden

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C. Frank Starmer