Photo Adventures with Curiosity and Learning

Dec 21, 2008: Nephila mating - up close

This was a rather extraordinary morning. I returned from yesterday to see if I could get a better shot of the reflections on the Argyrodes abdomen. To my surprise, one of the Argyrodes flavescens was not that at all but a male Nephila pilipes and just about to start the mating game. Although most of the preparation had taken place - weaving a mat of silk on the dorsal side of her abdomen, he wasted no time in approaching her, doing some preliminary stuff and then inserting his embolus conductors into her epigynum.

dec 21 3452 post mating recovery

Here comes the male from the north west corner of the web

dec 21 3460 male approach

Closer - and for this series, he did not do the usual tap her leg and ask permission

dec 21 3464 approach

The mating act appeared to consist of moving he cephalothorax up and down with his embolus conductors in their armed configuration (perpendicular to his abdomen)

dec 21 3487 male mating

Here I believe he is inserting one into her epigynum while the other is in the retracted (parallel to his abdomen) configuration

dec 21 3497 male insert

Here - seems to be just thinking about whatever

dec 21 3506 male mount

Preparing to insert the embolus conductor into her epigynum

dec 21 3530 prepare insert

Another view

dec 21 3531 male prepare insert

Raising the pedipalp before inserting it

dec 21 3532 male approach

Thrusting the embolus injector down

dec 21 3533 prepare insert

I think this illustrates the conductor inserted into her epigynum

dec 21 3534 inserted conductors


dec 21 3536 inserting conductor

Preparing for another insertion

dec 21 3537 inserting conductor

Closer view

dec 21 3540 conductor inserting

You can clearly see that his right pedipalp and embolus conductor is being actively used while the left one is in the unarmed or rest configuration

dec 21 3543 conductor inserted

From the side

dec 21 3557 conductors armed

Both embolus injectors retracted

dec 21 3569 conductors retracted

Here he is weaving a carpet of silk on her dorsal side

dec 21 3588 weaving conductors retracted

Both embolus conductors in the retracted position

dec 21 3592 conductor retracted

Here his right conductor is in what I call the armed configuration

dec 21 3604 conductors extended

Meanwhile, in the southeast corner of the web was an Argyrodes flavescens busy stealing prey from her web

dec 21 3599 argyrodes stealing

Doing a high wire act

dec 21 3606 argyrodes high wire

Wrapping her dinner

dec 21 3614 argyrodes prey

Meanwhile, back in the northwest corner - embolus conductors withdrawn and in their retracted configuration

dec 21 3621 conductor retracted

Then he decides to back off a bit and weave some more of his love carpet

dec 21 3629 weaving

Then back to the job at hand

dec 21 3638 injected conductor

Male maybe injecting sperm

dec 21 3664 male injecting

Another view

dec 21 3670 nephila injecting

While the Argyrodes are taking advantage of her preoccupation with mating

dec 21 3649 argyrodes

Wrapping dinner

dec 21 3656 stealing prey

Then close by - a metallic fly collides with the Nephila web and the collision was noticed by the Argyrodes

dec 21 3684 metallic fly caught

She raced to the fly

dec 21 3691 argyrodes stealing

And started wrapping it for dinner

dec 21 3696 argyrodes pray

End of story - but what a day

dec 21 3703 argyrodes pray

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer