Photo Adventures with Curiosity and Learning

July 7, 2007: Nephila pilipes mating and a new orange insect

There was a strong rain this morning - but this afternoon was clear. Some surprises. Both Nephila web locations displayed new webs - In one web, the mating game was well along - with the male very actively wrapping the female head (cephalothorax) with silk. The above videos show weaving by the male - hopping around her abdomen, then more weaving. The final video (be patient, it is long) shows what I think are the last stages of mating: he walked around to her ventral side and started serious mating. This was paralleled with some slow motion of the female legs. He finished and raced up the ventral surface of her abdomen - and onto the web. After a moment of hesitation, the female took chase. Below I pulled individual frames from the video that appear to show that he dropped from his place in her web, but she was able to grab his escape strand and pull him to her palps. This is the first time that I've observed the cannibalism attributed to some Nephila

The more pleasant part of this adventure was discovering a new colorful orange insect - possibly a stink bug.

The male weaving silk around the female cephalothorax. Left: attaching to the far side of her "head", Right: attaching to the 3rd leg on her near side.

jul 07 1823 male weaving jul 07 1874 male close

For me the ending of the mating exercise was a downer. Here is a photo of the female - after mating and after having her mate for dinner. From the video I was able to extract the sequence of events that led to his demise - where he apparently dropped by a silk strand to escape the female but in the end, failed.

Here are the final moments extracted from the video - approximately 30 msec between frames

Insertion of palps into her epigynum and right - note the arching of her abdomen and pulling her legs toward her body

jul 07 2020 2410 mating 4 web jul 07 2020 2410 mating 5 web

Escape while she continues to user her legs front legs to do something.

jul 07 2020 2410 mating 6 web jul 07 2020 2410 mating 8 web

Escape (left) and attack (right)

jul 07 2020 2410 mating 10 web jul 07 2020 2410 mating 11 web

On the right photo, you can see a small orange blob - this is the male dropping from his supposedly safe position by a strand of silk

jul 07 2020 2410 mating 12 web jul 07 2020 2410 mating 13 web

Here she apparently is pulling this strand of escape silk toward her palps

jul 07 2020 2410 mating 16 web jul 07 2020 2410 mating 18 web

Manipulating it

jul 07 2020 2410 mating 19 web jul 07 2020 2410 mating 22 web

and bring him to her palps / jaws

jul 07 2020 2410 mating 23 web jul 07 2020 2410 mating 24 web

The last gasp

end of life

The final solution - back to hunting

Nephila after mating

There was anohter Nephila web - but invaded by Argyrodes

jul 07 2011 lone nephila

Here is a view with the argyrodes (top - between the legs)

jul 07 2017 nephila argyrodes

The orange stink bug (I think)

jul 07 1937 orange insect

jul 07 1942 orange insect

jul 07 1949 orange insect front

jul 07 1964 orange insect

jul 07 1968 orange insect top

jul 07 1985 orange insect front

jul 07 2073 orange insect top

jul 07 2086 orange insect side

jul 07 2095 orange under

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer