The spider


Web and silk

The body

Sex and reproduction

The jaws and poison

Spider enemies

Blood circulation, the lungs and moulting

Literature and acknowledgements

The nerve system, sensory organs and legs

Sex and reproduction

Also spider has to reproduce and therefore there are males and female spiders. Males are often smaller and more colored than the females. Males can be easily recognized by what seems to be the fifth pair of legs. These are the palps with bulbs they use to inject sperm in the genital openings of a female.

Philodromus dispar male, note the palps.

Argiope keyserlingi with cocoon

The reproduction organs of a spider are located in front of the spinners. When the time comes, the male starts wandering around to look for a female. This is the time when we may come across our house spider. Normally the spider does not like to be seen. But now he has to move and run through our house, searching for a partner and unwittingly panicking the habitants of the house. When he has located the female, he has to take care not to be mistaken for a prey by the female. With different approaches per species, the male announces to the female that he is interested in mating. Males of some species offer a present, others tinkle with their feet in the web of the female and some perform a dance. If the signals are right and the female is ready for sex the male is allowed to approach. Prior to copulation a male fills its bulbs with sperms by weaving a small web. On the web he drops some droplets of sperm from its genitals and sucks the sperm into the bulbs.

Nigma puella's making love

Lycosa furcillata with youngsters on her back

After mating, the males of some species must be extremely careful. Sometimes the female tries to kill the male for an easy meal. Often the male escapes. The males of some species do not care anymore to live longer and are eaten without objection. Other species live together happily for a long time after mating. There is a great diversity in sexual behavior among species. The males of most species do not live long after mating because their goal has been reached and their purpose fulfilled. Females often live longer than males. Some females die after the eggs have hatched and some females are even eaten by their offspring. Others may live on for years. Most females guard their eggs and youngsters. Wolf spiders carry their egg sac at their spinners and carry the young on their backs until their first change of skin. Orb weavers often guard their egg sac.

Theriid with youngsters


Ed Nieuwenhuys, January 2006