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 coloured 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.
Male Philodromus albidus, note the palps with bulbs that is typical for male spiders. Female Thanatus arenarius; a female palp has no bulbs
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.
The male of Xysticus cristatus offers the female a caught insect. If she accept the offer the male wraps her with a few threads of silk to "tie" her up. This is a ritual act because these threads are to tiny to immobilize her. While the female consumes her present, the male copulates her.

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.

  The male is ready to insert his palp in the female genitals.

Careful and tender approach

Araniella cucurbitina's making love Pardosa lugubris 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 behaviour 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. They can be seen hanging in their wheel-web but after the spiderlings are hatched the female abandon them and/or dies.

The 'Black widow' spiders (Latrodectus species) gained their name because they eat their males after mating. Here the much smaller male happily wanders around the female that is guarding her egg-sacs.

Pardosa lugubris
with egg-sac attached to her spinners

Argiope bruennichi guarding her egg-sac. (picture Iljitsj van Kessel)
Micrommata virescens guarding her just hatched youngsters Theriid with youngsters
Araneus diadematus youngsters Youngsters of Argiope trifasciata clustered to a yellow ball

Tetragnatha ZZ282 playing with her children.

Next : spider enemies

Ed Nieuwenhuys, 23 march 2023
December 2011, March 23, 2008, January 2008, January 2006