Araneus diadematus has moved in...how to overwinter?

Aphrael

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Sep 17, 2016
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Hi, there!

I'm Aphrael, reformed spider hater turned spider lover, thanks to the loving attention of several Araneus diadematus spiders. :)

About two months ago, one moved into my bedroom directly above my desk/bed. She's chill; she looked like a Wendy, so that's what I named her. So far, she's been feasting on the odd live housefly and I've been able to sort of breed her some fruit flies...but I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia and they're starting to become difficult to find due to the weather. Frost already.

I thought about moving her outside...but even when the house gets cool she seems to get a bit unwell, and I've been reading that the cold kills them in a lot of cases. And besides, she's pretty friendly, honestly, for a spider. She's dropped down by my head a few times while fixing her web, no fear of me, really. Currently sitting in her web less than two feet from me so I like to think (imagine? pretend?) she's cool with me, too.

I have some questions. If I overwinter her, I would like to do so in a way that's as natural as possible...after all, she IS wild, so I'm hesitant to trap her in a box or any sort of cage etc. But I will if needed. If so, what do I do?

And what on Earth do I feed her? Mealworms? Crickets? She's not that big..about the size of a Canadian dime not including legs.

How often should I feed her?

From what I've read, mealworms and crickets can kill them so I was a bit concerned...and apparently they can go weeks with no food?

Thanks for your info in advance :)
 

The Snark

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What you got IS wild. What she chose. Without the temperature drop outside she may not go dormant over the winter. If you do move her outside now it will probably be a death sentence. She's not metabolically prepared to overwinter after an indoor clime.
Feed her whatever works. The bugs she is used to eating are probably seasonal and few and far between now. Don't underestimate her. Orb weavers can take bugs several times their size. Most usually love moths or butterflies. Lots of juice and the sticky lines on the web do most of the spiders work for her.

Destroying her web, that is, removing the main suspension webs and relocating her will tax her and cause some stress. Something you two need to work out.

Feed her every couple of weeks or so. This extends their life span as they automatically assume dormancy until something gets caught in her web. This is the usual reason for messed up webs going unrepaired. The spider doesn't do maintenance except after dinner.

It's pretty unlikely she will ever assume a threat posture and present a possibility of a bite. With orb weavers that is usually reserved entirely to females with males present in their webs or post mating and then they usually need a lot of provoking.

Good luck and wishing a peaceful coexistence.

We have around 20 of these sweets occupying the ceiling at a local temple. They use mutual web anchors and produce pie slice webs to accommodate the neighbors. The novice monks like to catch butterflies and moths then test their bug flinging skills throwing them up to the webs.
 
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Aphrael

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What you got IS wild. What she chose. Without the temperature drop outside she may not go dormant over the winter. If you do move her outside now it will probably be a death sentence. She's not metabolically prepared to overwinter after an indoor clime.
This is sort of what I was thinking. She's welcome to stick around as long as she likes, even if I do hope she gets to go do more spidery things at some point. Right now she's between two shelves, at the front of a cubby if that makes sense (no door). It's frankly almost perfect so I'm just going to carefully take the stuff off the shelf and that can be her home for the winter

Feed her whatever works. The bugs she is used to eating are probably seasonal and few and far between now. Don't underestimate her. Orb weavers can take bugs several times their size. Most usually love moths or butterflies. Lots of juice and the sticky lines on the web do most of the spiders work for her.
I can actually get mealworms quite easily, and superworms, too, but I think they may truly be too big for her lol. Crickets are an option but I'll see whether I can scare up some flighty critters. We do have a small reptile shop here that may have some other options, too. Biggest thing is I wanted to make sure she won't starve.

Destroying her web, that is, removing the main suspension webs and relocating her will tax her and cause some stress. Something you two need to work out.
She's totally fine there if she likes. :) So far it's just been a bit of loosening more than anything.

Feed her every couple of weeks or so. This extends their life span as they automatically assume dormancy until something gets caught in her web. This is the usual reason for messed up webs going unrepaired. The spider doesn't do maintenance except after dinner.
This is actually really good and I'm glad you said that. I think what I was perceiving as "not well" in the cooler house could very well have been that. She often sits in the center of the web, just hanging, but will sometimes run to the corner of the wall and hang out there, too. Do you think I should stick a couple of leaves in in case she wants to nest or something? I was reading that happens sometimes...

It's pretty unlikely she will ever assume a threat posture and present a possibility of a bite. With orb weavers that is usually reserved entirely to females with males present in their webs or post mating and then they usually need a lot of provoking.
You know, she's never even acted like that. She's by far the most docile spider I've met. She will run if you get too close (like when I tried to peer closer at her lovely little eyes - they're quite nice - she skittered up to the wall. But not aggressive at all. Funnily enough a male has now set up shop in my kitchen so perhaps they'll meet.

Good luck and wishing a peaceful coexistence.

We have around 20 of these sweets occupying the ceiling at a local temple. They use mutual web anchors and produce pie slice webs to accommodate the neighbors. The novice monks like to catch butterflies and moths then test their bug flinging skills throwing them up to the webs.
Just beautiful, look at that yellow color <3 I also found a rather attractive argiope languishing outside a couple of days ago...sadly she didn't last long in the cold and was dead the next day.
 

The Snark

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Some do like to have a hide, a few leaves or similar, up at the corner near the orb. Several species of spider will go into this retreat at certain times of the day or night. Others don't care.
 

Aphrael

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Heya,

Adventures in Mealworms are commencing. However, she seems to be having a damned fair fight with the thing. Sort of wrestled it for about 15 minutes but is now settling down. Seemed like she had to hit it multiple times to get through the shell maybe. However, she's now sitting in the center of her orb looking EXTREMELY chuffed as she munches it. :)
 

The Snark

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Adventures in Mealworms are commencing. However, she seems to be having a damned fair fight with the thing.
Think about what kind of bug normally gets trapped in their webs. Soft bodied, ~90% of the time. Caterpillars, moths, butterflies and so on. Hard chitin types would be pretty rare.
 

Aphrael

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Think about what kind of bug normally gets trapped in their webs. Soft bodied, ~90% of the time. Caterpillars, moths, butterflies and so on. Hard chitin types would be pretty rare.
That was my thought, too. However, I just spoke with a friend and apparently I can mail-order her some less crunchy food, live :) So I'll do that today and hopefully next time she has less of a battle with it.

She did win, by the way :)
 

Crone Returns

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That was my thought, too. However, I just spoke with a friend and apparently I can mail-order her some less crunchy food, live :) So I'll do that today and hopefully next time she has less of a battle with it.

She did win, by the way :)
I am happy for you about your new friend. Enjoy her and thank her for choosing you! I've had a few of them around when I was arachnophobic and they, plus jumping spiders never freaked me out. Have fun!
 

Aphrael

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Just a short update. That was one determined spider! It took her some time, but three hours later, mostly what's left is a hollow mealworm shell! Incidentally a housefly wandered into her web on its own so she now has a snack for later, too. lol.
 

The Snark

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It's good to hear she's active and apparently content. I'm reading this as a spider on a mission: Working things out indoors in close proximity to a human.
 

Aphrael

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That's what I think, too, Snark. She's looking kind of hysterically plump now and happily scuttling around primping her web, here I am just a couple of feet away. Anyway, I'll keep this thread updated now and again and let you know if she makes it through the winter :)
 

Aphrael

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Wanted to post an update. We may have found a temporary solution - letting the mealworms reach pupa stage. When they molt they reach a stage where they don't have a hard shell, and are quite helpless. She took one tonight (I wanted to attempt just to see if it'd work) easy peasy.
 

Aphrael

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Love and marriage..love and marriage...go together like a horse and carriage..okay maybe spider and human. Wanted to update. We're still here, and she's doing fine. She's gotten very quiet the last few days...doesn't come out of her hide much. Perhaps dormant after all? But she is alive and every week or so I feed her. Hopefully she makes it through the winter but if she doesn't, at least she had a cushy hotel to languish in :)
 

Aphrael

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Or doing the nocturnal thing.

It's funny you mentioned this because last night she came down and hung out most of the night. I've been on a day schedule for a couple of weeks, never made the connection. However she is no longer really fixing her web either...so I guess we'll see! She seems like she's shrunk down a little bit also. Still feeding once per week.
 

Aphrael

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An update! I believe she may be dormant or something at this point. She's had flies and bugs in her web this week but hasn't gone near them. She IS alive and will move if I gently blow air towards her, but she's not really doing much of anything and not eating. No real signs of molting or anything like that, and she's not out at night either. Not sure what's up but I've just been ensuring she has food access and leaving it at that :)
 

Aphrael

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A couple of weeks later and I thought I'd post an update. She still isn't eating; in fact, I watched her apparently toss two bugs out of her web this week! Her web has also become extremely ragged, even when she's just spun a new section...and it seems to have lost some of its stickiness also. A little baffling to see her oust the food...any thoughts on this?

I've rigged her up a small hide and have a piece of cotton soaked in water close by for her if she desires. So I guess that is to say that not much has changed, other than her getting slower (though the house is cooler).
 

Aphrael

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And just like that...at 2:00 am on a cold January night...the little spider decided that it was time to move on. She packed up her stuff and headed out, up over the cupboard and off to adventures greater than we could ever know.

Our little friend has moved along, not sure why...or if she'll be back. I wish her luck out there!
 
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