Raw Sex!

The Snark

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Nephila Kuli, as identified by Exopet.
At first I thought I was looking at a new molt. I grabbed the camera to get the shots. Then as I was clicking (fighting with the focus), the limp lower form slowly curled up her legs. What really astounded me is the male, above, was of equal size to the female.
Additional oddities. The mating took place outside of the orb web. A single drop line secured to a guyline suspends both spiders.
The female, for several minutes, was completely limp, her legs swaying in the breeze.
Could someone give me the correct term for what I am taking is the sexual appendage of the male, seen extending up from it's abdomen?



 
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The Snark

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looks like a fresh molt to me.....


moose
Sure did, didn't it? Surprised the heck out of me when she started moving. But then, comb feet ordinarily need to grab things to pull themselves out during molt. They don't just slither all eight legs out and end up like in the first pic. That made me think I was seeing something new and amazing.
Update: 1/2 hour later the female is back on the orb and the male has vanished.

Offkillter: What would you title a picture where you have a virile spider male squatting supremely above a limp and submissive female? :} (That sure isn't a quick game of badminton)
 
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davisfam

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Hmm.. that is extremely odd because the picture below shows the mating process as much different than what we're seeing in your pictures.. then again, we don't know much about this species of spider! I just happened to stumble across a few while spider hunting during the day last week! I have never seen Orb Weavers mate either so this may all be normal, who knows! I am sure someone will get back to you with a more definate answer tomorrow! Good Luck!! =)


Picture: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bb/Golden_silk_mating.jpg
 

The Snark

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davisfam,
While by no means an expert, I have never seen a mating quite like that. Additionally, as I understand it, it is extremely rare in spiders for the male to be as large as the female. It does seem to make some kind of sense. The female leaving her web to mate so the huge male doesn't trigger her hunting instinct, and it leaving the scene shortly after the mating.

What would tell for certain is if she produces an egg sack but that is fraught with a lot of problems. The main problem is about 1/3 of her web is attached to a plant that only 'lives' for, normally, 2 months. I had guyed it up and it has survived for four but is wilting fast.

Does anyone have some idea what the gestation period of N. Kuli is?
 

Widowman10

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that looks like a molt. nephila don't mate this way, and males are much smaller.
 

The Snark

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that looks like a molt. nephila don't mate this way, and males are much smaller.
I would really like some explanation of this. I originally took the pictures to record a molting. I was going to collect the molt. Then both of them, as can be seen in the sequence, moved their legs. The upper one was moving about quite a bit at first while the lower one was limp which left me thinking the lower one was the molt. Now I'm not entirely willing to believe what I saw!
 

Widowman10

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bottom one is the female spider, top one is her fresh molt. is it possible since the molt (and spider) are connected to the web that when the spider moves, the molt (which is attached to the same web) will move too? that would also explain the disappearance, her dropping the molt from the line/web to the ground.
 

The Snark

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Disbelieving my own eyes and the pics of the legs having moved, I have to agree that it was a molt. What is so weird is I thought at first it was a molt, with the upper one actively moving, then the other moved. How the molt moved in such a way that I mistook it for being alive is really astounding me.
Moose35, a wonderful picture. Exactly what happened.
Widowman10: is it possible since the molt (and spider) are connected to the web that when the spider moves, the molt (which is attached to the same web) will move too?
That had to be the case, but I looked very carefully and saw that both were suspended from a single dropline, rotating slightly on the line. I have another very blurry picture which shows the upper one's legs touching the abdomen of the lower which were then withdrawn. I will venture a guess that some of the movement was the old case drying and contracting. But in the last picture of the sequence, you can see two legs from the upper extended again. Weird!

PS I took over 80 shots to get those pics. I either need a better camera, or to learn how to use this one!
 
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The Snark

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EXPLANATION!! It is a molt. A friend who breeds latros just sent:
"The molt process is aided to some degree by the connective tissues of the old casing expanding and contracting. What you probably saw was the continuing expansion and contraction. It is unusual for there to be that much motion but this would depend upon many factors such as the age of the spider, a premature or delayed molt, and even the weather and air temperature and moisture. Under very dry conditions, the spent casing rigidly contracts as the process occurs."
 

The Snark

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Venom, that link seems to be dead. ?? (It could be this computer too)

Wriggling molt. I saw that once many years ago in a latrodectus that was in a controlled-modified environment. All I recall was the molt continued to flex, more expansion and contraction than anything else. I /think/ it has something to do with a very humid environment where the molt is like trying to take off a tight wet pair of pants. In the case of my nephila we had 100% humidity, the dew point near that, with cloudless spontaneous precipitation.

Could you point me to more info on Nephila dimorphism?
 

jsloan

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Wriggling molt. I saw that once many years ago in a latrodectus that was in a controlled-modified environment. All I recall was the molt continued to flex, more expansion and contraction than anything else.
Maybe what you saw wasn't a molt but just a male and female mating? :)
 
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