So we have - had - six golden silk spiders in our orchid room, all happily hanging out. We call them all Octavia, but the biggest one - the original I photographed eating the giant grasshopper - has been turning down food for the past few days. Larry speculated that she busy making eggs, and it did indeed look like her abdomen would burst any minute.
This morning I went out to see the spiders and found Octavia's web empty. I accounted for the remaining spiders and found them all except for her. I came in and told Larry and a few minutes later, when he went out to water the orchids, he yelled for me to come into the greenhouse. And here's what we found: The original Octavia, her abdomen deflated from laying eggs, was preying one of the other Octavias. She'd crawled right down into her web, grabbed the smaller spider and was busily pumping her full of venom.
Yuck. And damn. If she'd just have waited we would have gladly given her another grasshopper. But I guess egg-laying is depleting work and it's easier to just crawl into someone else's web and eat them than it is to build your own web and wait for something to fly into it.
My first, irrational though was to do something to save Octavia's victim. But then I felt silly. It was too late. And besides, this sort of thing happens in the wild all the time. So I left her to suck her sister spider dry and did the next best thing. I took some pictures. Yes, yes, I know it's unnerving. But when I brought the spiders home I told myself I'd document everything they did, and that' what I've done. Just think of gruesome spider pictures kind of like pornography. No one's forcing you to look at it.
On the upshot, Octavia has laid her eggs. We aren't sure where, but it'll join the two other egg sacs we've already found in the greenhouse.
The pregnant spiders who laid them disappeared. Like I said, egg-laying is apparently pretty demanding work, and the others lacked Octavia's resolve to do what it takes to stay in the game: cannibalize your neighbor.
So that's the latest in the Octavia files. Stay tuned. I know how much you all love reading about my spiders. Especially Suspect and Erik.
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