Nephila clavipes Caging

Sheepy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 21, 2010
Messages
10
Hello everyone!

I'm new on these forums, so I guess I'll start with a short intro.
I'm currently a graduate student in a lab that works with spiders, of course I love these crawlers, that's why I'm here :p.

Anyway, we have a bunch of black widows in cages sitting around, and they've been doing just fine. We're in California here so we get tons of them. We've moved some of our work to Nephila clavipes, the popular orb weaver, and we're getting a little bit of a problem setting up their home.

As Nephila clavipes are not native to California, we get our weavers from Florida. I'll get to the point.

So before my time here, the previous graduate student bought these giant mesh cages for the Nephila. He wasn't able to keep them alive for too long, so I took over the survival project. I figured it was a humidity problem, so I glued sheets of acrylic to the sides of the mesh cage, so now I have two giant sealed cages, with hinged doors. I also purchased the ZooMed Repifogger and controller to keep them nice and humid, with the mister going through a hole i cut in the top of the cage.

So overall it seems like they are doing well, we've actually gotten 4 egg sacs so far (one this morning!).

Here is problem #1:
I try feeding them flying fruit flies. (The lab across from us does fly work, so just borrowed some to culture). The problem is though, the flies really like to escape from the cracks on the hinge door.

I've also tried feeding them meal worms, but the ones who don't establish good webs are hard to feed.

So I tried fixing problem #1, and I run into Problem #2:
I tried a) temporarily taping the door cracks with masking tape, to keep the flies from coming out; and b) I glued strips of rubber on the sides of the doors to keep it shut tight.

However.

One of the cages started condensing on the side... Only one of the cages.
Both are set to 70% humidity, and are set right next to each other next to the window.

I tried looking up why it would condense, and it seems like it is a problem of lack of ventilation? It doesn't make sense as one cage is fine while the other is fogging up.

The condensing cage also gets these bursts of high RH, shooting up to 95% for some reason.

I'm going to try switching the humidity controllers around, and see if it's a hardware issue.

I thought you people might know better than I do on what to do here.

Thanks!

PS. Sorry for the wall of text x_X.

TL;DR:
1) Cage leaks flies, what do I do?
2) Cage is condensing up on the sides, what do I do?
3) Hello everyone!
 

zonbonzovi

Creeping beneath you
Staff member
Joined
Oct 20, 2008
Messages
3,346
Maybe try the super fine mesh available in the garden section of your local hardware store. It's the breathable weed barrier stuff.

The condensation is going to be tough to control with the humidity needs. Try drilling holes in the acrylic where the condensation is at its heaviest & apply the fine mesh to the holes. The mister may be overdoing it if the cage is that well sealed.
 

Vespula

Arachnodemon
Joined
Jul 27, 2010
Messages
707
Have you tried feeding them Crickets? I fed my Argiope aurantia crickets and she did very well. :D
 

insect714

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
213
However.

One of the cages started condensing on the side... Only one of the cages.
Both are set to 70% humidity, and are set right next to each other next to the window.
First question...Only one cage has condensation forming, Is this the cage closest to the window?

Second question...Do both cages maintain the same moisture levels? or is there not enough moisture in the other cage to for it to be able to form condensation?
 

Sheepy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 21, 2010
Messages
10
Hello,

Thanks for the responses!

I'm considering switching out one of the smaller sealed panels out with the fine meshes.

The problem with feeding them larger organisms is that some of them like to take their webs down, or don't put one up at all. This makes throwing food into their webs a lot harder :(. They don't really like to be fed in the face either it seems.

Both cages are next to the window, so sunlight wise they are getting the exact same amount.

One cage, the non-condensing one seems to be doing fine, staying around 70% percent with the controller.

The condensing one seems to shoot up to ~90%, condense a ton, then drop way down for the mister to turn back on.

I've switched the two controllers around, and I'll see if maybe one of the controllers is malfunctioning.

I'm also thinking it may be a temperature issue, as the overall temperature is getting cooler (less sunlight). I'm considering hooking up heat lamps to keep the temperature more constant. I assume they'd like the temperature to be around 75~80F?

Man, I can write my thesis on keeping these guys happy. Forget my actual molecular work :p.
 

dtknow

Arachnoking
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 18, 2004
Messages
2,242
You should contact the LA nastural history museum. They have a display going on and should know how to keep them alive and building.
 

Sheepy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 21, 2010
Messages
10
So it seems like the condensation problem was easily solved; and I was just dumb.

The sensor was getting too much sunlight which was drying out the sensor, and that was causing the humidifier to go off constantly. I moved the cages a bit so there is a corner for permanent shade; and I stuck the sensor there. Seems like there is no problem with condensation now.

I'm not sure why the other cage's sensor wasn't tripping, but if ain't broke don't fix it, right? :p.

Oh btw, I've read that they're supposed to be kept at 70~80% humidity, and around 80F. Is this correct?

I'd actually like to go to the LA Nat. His. Museum myself sometime, but it seems like they have their orb weavers in a huge dome free roaming.

Thanks a bunch guys!
 

missscarlett

Arachnopeon
Joined
Mar 21, 2009
Messages
23
Nephila

I have worked with Nephila madagascariensis. The adults were kept in vertically oriented tanks with two sides fine mesh and two sides glass, as ventilation is equally as important as humidity. Fruit fly producing vials are simply left open on the cage bottom and replaced as needed. Houseflies are given once a week and prekilled crickets are forcep-fed to the larger females by hand twice a week. Pre-killed crickets are alternately left "hung up" in the web.
The few N. clavipes I've worked with seemed more "skittish" about eating compared to N. madagascariensis, but took houseflies, fruit flies, and smaller crickets.
With fruit flies, we had to hang up traps occasionally.
Hope this helps.
 

Sheepy

Arachnopeon
Joined
Oct 21, 2010
Messages
10
About house flies.

I tried to catch some and 'culture' them so I can get a food supply going, but it seems like they die really really fast :/.

There is D.hydei, which is larger than D.melanogaster, but they're usually sold flightless, which is kind of annoying :p. Still, they're no where as large as house flies...

Anyone have success growing them up themselves?
 
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