Photo Adventures with Curiosity and Learning

January 21, 2007: Nephila maculata, the mating game

Today, I found large female golden silk banana spider, Nephila maculata and her microscopic male partner, trying to execute the mating game. I think they succeeded, though the male wandered all over his female partner - until apparently finding the lock to open with his key. It was rather humorous because near the end of the mating process, a fly became entangled in her web and off she went, with her male partner haning on for dear life.

About 5 metres above the ground I found a huge golden silk spider web (Nephila maculata) and if you look closely, you will see a little reddish spider on the right side of her face. This is most likely a male Nephila in search of the solution to the mating game. The following photos simply show him as he moves about

jan 21 4884 nephila male head

For orientation - here is her web where you can get some idea of the size - relative to the size of the leaves

jan 21 4992 nephila context

Here he is on top of her thorax

jan 21 4890 nephila male top

Here you can see him crawling under her (which is in the right direction to solve the mating game)

jan 21 4894 nephila male under

Here he is - back on top

jan 21 4909 nephila male female

walking back

jan 21 4946 nephila male top

then to one side

jan 21 4956 nephila male top

then back to the front

jan 21 4962 nephila male top

and climbing over her face

jan 21 4968 nephila male head

Here you can barely see his legs on the right side of her abdomen

jan 21 4988 nephila male under

Now he is nearing the mating position

jan 21 5001 nephila mating

Slowly creaping up to the proper position

jan 21 5013 nephila mating

Oops - something just flew into the web so SHE dashes off to get her snake while HE hangs on

jan 21 5024 dinner

She returns to the center of the web - but he is now sufficiently disoriented as to return to her dorsal side and think about the situation

jan 21 5070 nephila male female top

Hmmm - seems mating was complete, in spite of the interruption - so off he leaves - with his life still intact

jan 21 5082 nephila male female

Moving further away (female typically eat their partners after mating

jan 21 5089 nephila male female

moving around a bit

jan 21 5096 nephila male female

then getting some serious distance between him and her

jan 21 5100 nephila male female

Now he is probably a safe distance away

jan 21 5131 nephila male female

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer