Why Do Cellar Spiders Leave Their Web?

CellarSpiderMom

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 29, 2016
Messages
13
Hello everyone,

I'm new here. I've just started feeding the cellar spiders in my home this year and I've grown very attached to a few of them. I purchased some fruit flies (D. Hydei) and I feed them a couple to a few times a week, depending on how much the flies are breeding. But since I'm new at this, I have a few questions that I'm hoping someone here can answer for me:

1) How long do cellar spiders live (particularly if they're fed regularly)? I'm surprised that I haven't been able to find any info on this online. Apparently feeding cellar spiders isn't very common?

2) Do I also need to drop water into or around their web or do they get enough hydration from their food? I've noticed some spiders who have drowned in my dog-kids' water bowl, and I've seen others drinking from water droplets on the counter.

3) MOST IMPORTANT: Why does a cellar spider leave a successful web where she's being fed regularly? I've had 2 of my favorite spiders suddenly leave their webs after being there for 2-3 months, even though I haven't seen another spider in the web. (Actually, Agnes left yesterday and there was a small, clear cellar spider in her web a few hours later).

Agnes had caught another spider in her web a couple of nights before she left (I'm pretty sure it was a Hobo Spider, which our house is full of) and she suckled on it for a few days. Then yesterday, she was gone - I can't find her anywhere, although all of my other spiders are in their webs. And in Agnes's web was that little spider. The same thing happened with Charlotte in December. Did they go off to die? Both Agnes and Charlotte were big, fat cellar spiders, so I can't imagine another spider (especially a small one) being able to get the drop on them.

Thank you for any info!
 
Last edited:

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
9,210
1. From observation, about 1 year. Possibly a little more but never more than 2.
2. Never need water under typical tropical humidity conditions.
3. My best guess it the wanderers are males, out looking to set up a harem. Maybe females go out looking for males? Seems unlikely, but pholcids seem to have broken the primordial mold in other ways. Females have to go look for males in order for harem groups to develop.

 
Last edited:

cold blood

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
12,372
I would guess that it could be a MM, but it could also just be finding a new home. Cool that you saw it catch another spider, spiders are their specialty.
 

CellarSpiderMom

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 29, 2016
Messages
13
1. From observation, about 1 year. Possibly a little more but never more than 2.
2. Never need water under typical tropical humidity conditions.
3. My best guess it the wanderers are males, out looking to set up a harem. Maybe females go out looking for males? Seems unlikely, but pholcids seem to have broken the primordial mold in other ways. Females have to go look for males in order for harem groups to develop.

Wow, I didn't know they form harems!!

I just sort of randomly name them a male or female name after looking at their pedipalps, but I know that's not accurate with the cellar spiders. Well, I'll miss seeing that little girl (guy? I'll have to get used to calling Agnes "he!") every morning - his web was always kept the cleanest & most well spun...it was always easy to feed him. And he never ran when my hand came near his web - he'd just wait for me to drop a fly to him :(.
 
Last edited:

CellarSpiderMom

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 29, 2016
Messages
13
I would guess that it could be a MM, but it could also just be finding a new home. Cool that you saw it catch another spider, spiders are their specialty.
Thank you for the reply - what's an MM?

I actually saw one of my other spiders eating another spider a few weeks ago...that one made me sad though because it was a fellow cellar spider - a new one who was skinny & I'd just started feeding. The one that Agnes got was a Hobo though & she (he?) was funny with it - hoarding it like she never does with the flies. So apparently it was tasty.

Do you know if they ever return to their web after leaving? Charlotte left in December and never came back...
 

cold blood

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
12,372
MM=Mature Male

No, a mature male will wander, looking for a female, then die shortly after...that is if he's not munched in the process.
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
9,210
No, a mature male will wander, looking for a female, then die shortly after...that is if he's not munched in the process.
I don't think that applies to Pholcids. Like the harem pictured, they remained in that group for many months. The females produced egg sacks and there appeared to be 100% cooperation without internecine squabbles.

OP A something to watch. Observe very closely when a pholcid is wrangling it's victim. See if you can spot the nips. Those bites are usually so fast it's hard for the eye to catch. The nips and how they use their legs is the reason that tribe could be considered the most effective spider killers of the entire order.
Also, as you have probably noticed, the webs have no sticky threads. The spider relies entirely upon dexterity.
 
Last edited:

cold blood

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 19, 2014
Messages
12,372
I don't think that applies to Pholcids. Like the harem pictured, they remained in that group for many months. The females produced egg sacks and there appeared to be 100% cooperation without internecine squabbles.

OP A something to watch. Observe very closely when a pholcid is wrangling it's victim. See if you can spot the nips. Those bites are usually so fast it's hard for the eye to catch. The nips and how they use their legs is the reason that tribe could be considered the most effective spider killers of the entire order.
Which part doesn't apply? MM's still die and still search out females....while they may not be prone to eating mates, it doesn't mean its impossible. Although they live in close proximity, its not always friendly, as OP noticed when one was eating its kin.

Their hunting and killing process is pretty neat though for sure.
 

CellarSpiderMom

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 29, 2016
Messages
13
I don't think that applies to Pholcids. Like the harem pictured, they remained in that group for many months. The females produced egg sacks and there appeared to be 100% cooperation without internecine squabbles.

OP A something to watch. Observe very closely when a pholcid is wrangling it's victim. See if you can spot the nips. Those bites are usually so fast it's hard for the eye to catch. The nips and how they use their legs is the reason that tribe could be considered the most effective spider killers of the entire order.
Also, as you have probably noticed, the webs have no sticky threads. The spider relies entirely upon dexterity.
Wow, that's fascinating!! I wish there was more info on them on the web that didn't come from Orkin :( .

I love watching them eat - they look so content :) . It's amazing to watch them spinning their web around the prey.... But, my hubs and I both shake our fists at the sky often because they lose their prey from their webs about 80% of the time & we have to keep carefully dropping more flies in. We can't understand how they survive out in the wild with such low odds of actually getting a meal on any given day!! Their webs are full of huge holes and since it's not sticky, even if the prey is initially caught, it almost always falls through when the spider approaches & the spider's weight shakes the fibers.

One thing that's really cool that I've seen many times though is when a prey falls to the bottom of the web, but is still on a fiber, the spiders will figure out which fiber the prey is on and then carefully pull that fiber toward themselves to get the prey - it's amazing to watch! The other thing that's interesting is many times we've seen one of our hungry ones (usually the newbies on the block) chase down prey after it's dropped out of their web. The fat ones don't do that - just the ones with the small abdomens. They're so fast!

Thank you for all of the info - It's nice to talk with someone who doesn't think I'm looney for befriending wild spiders, lol. I really enjoy watching them. :)
 
Last edited:

CellarSpiderMom

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 29, 2016
Messages
13
Which part doesn't apply? MM's still die and still search out females....while they may not be prone to eating mates, it doesn't mean its impossible. Although they live in close proximity, its not always friendly, as OP noticed when one was eating its kin.

Their hunting and killing process is pretty neat though for sure.

I almost started a spider fight today on accident :/ ...I have several "feeding stations" where 2-7 spiders live, all in the same area. One of them is in one of my long cupboards, where they have a tiered web system set up - 3 of them are stacked one above the other. The top spider (I haven't named them yet, so we'll call him #1) is very skinny, #2 is fairly fit and #3 is nicely plump and is a medium sized spider. I accidentally dropped a fly in #2's web today, rather than starting with #1 and #1 tried to go after it at the same time #2, who's a slightly bigger spider, did. #2 immobilized the prey, while #1 was still trying to get it, so #2 left the prey and then started chasing #1 off. Thankfully hunger won out and #2 went back to the prey or I'd have had to break it up and they have more arms than I do, lol. I was then able to successfully drop a fly into #1's web as well, so all are full and happy. :)
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
9,210
It's amazing to watch them spinning their web around the prey.... But, my hubs and I both shake our fists at the sky often because they lose their prey from their webs about 80% of the time & we have to keep carefully dropping more flies in.
That is my big aggravation. A bathroom full to the brim of mosquitoes and watching the ultra klutz pholcids let one after another escape. I mean, maybe 1 out of 20 mossies gets it's dues.
 

Villagecreep

Arachnosquire
Joined
Mar 27, 2018
Messages
62
1. From observation, about 1 year. Possibly a little more but never more than 2.
2. Never need water under typical tropical humidity conditions.
3. My best guess it the wanderers are males, out looking to set up a harem. Maybe females go out looking for males? Seems unlikely, but pholcids seem to have broken the primordial mold in other ways. Females have to go look for males in order for harem groups to develop.

can I just say that your quote is one of the best I've seen on this site?

Also yeah, the one that leave are most likely males.
 

BenLeeKing

Arachnoknight
Joined
Nov 23, 2017
Messages
239
Here's my picture of my Pholcus phalangioides (mature male)
I found it as a sub adult, and once it molted, it's pedipalps obviously grown larger quite significantly.

 

topege

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Messages
5
Hey, I have a couple of questions. How could I move these spiders to another location? I would like to start a new "colony" or "harem" in my house and they are currently at my work place. Should I capture a female and a male? How can I identify them?
 

Villagecreep

Arachnosquire
Joined
Mar 27, 2018
Messages
62
Hey, I have a couple of questions. How could I move these spiders to another location? I would like to start a new "colony" or "harem" in my house and they are currently at my work place. Should I capture a female and a male? How can I identify them?
You can Identify them by their pedipalps; as for transport, I would get something like a tall container with a large opening/lid and try to coax them in with a large spoon or your hand, just know that they are VERY fast! I would also capture a large amount and if they are all in one central container try to relocate or transport them quickly to prevent cannibalism. Good luck!
 
Top