Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Octavia sucks

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.


Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

Good morning Morgan
I too am fascinated by spiders – and all things living.
I think your Octavia stories are beautiful and wondrous.
Your children are very lucky to have you.

But your most excellent comments on my blog yesterday unleashed a 31 year old memory and I just had to respond and write about it.
It is not something for the light hearted. War stories should never be.
Thanks for getting me to unload – you are rapidly becoming one of my very favorite peeps.
A very nice and unexpected connection indeed.

I’ll be back to check in with your little friends later when I cheer up

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Morgan said...

Oh, I'm sorry if my comments brought back some bad memories. And yes, that was a really sad story.
And I'm honored to be one of Bobb's peeps, by the way.

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

Not a problem Morgan
In fact it was very well said and very timely
Uncanny in fact – and indeed I am grateful
Very much so.

Well met indeed!

I hope to bring as much to this place as I have already gotten out of it.
That would be an accomplishment.

We should talk sometime about Karma
About things happening for a reason, connections happening for a reason.
But this is not the time

This is Octavia’s day
Congratz on her eggs – and all
She might be preying on the neighbors out of more than just hunger
The real estate is valuable to her clutch, no?

Here in NY we have already had a frost or two – the spiders have all gone away.
I watch the birds on the move and I listen to them.
But I have more on my mind and do not blog it
Perhaps tonight

I love this time of year

Suspect said...

This beats reality TV.

You know humanity is a Terrible Fish when Ye Chronicles of Octavius the Spyder is more interesting than people.

What a truly Terrible Fish.

And hey! Those pics weren't disgusting enough! Come on!

How about a pic of the egg sac? And try to get photos of the itty bitty spiders coming out of the eggs. Oh, and don't forget to capture their first meal. And how about --

See what I mean?

Anonymous said...

Don't you have like a cat or something you could photograph instead? Your spider pictures make my skin crawl. They are way too detailed.

Erik said...


This is one spider story that is almost happy. "Spider Cannibalism" Makes ya shiver with a little bit of delight and a bit of disgust (o= But one less spider is one les spider.

As for the egg sacks, I have been known to destroy more than a few of those in my time cuz I knew what was going to come out!

I am not as bad as I used to be with my spider-hating, I even let most of them live. But never, NEVER, the ones that run right by you as if to say "ha! I could have killed you but didnt!" Arrogant assassin spiders cannot be tolerated.

sammyray said...

Morgan, your fascination with spiders creeps me out LOL I must say, however, that the pictures almost justify the interest you have in them.

You never told me what camera you're using for them.

Morgan said...

Sammyray, I'm sorry. I thought I did. All my photos are taken with a Canon Rebel XT. I used an eF 15-85mm lens to shoot the spiders.

Morgan said...

"But never, NEVER, the ones that run right by you as if to say "ha! I could have killed you but didnt!" Arrogant assassin spiders cannot be tolerated."

ROFL...We had a few wolf spiders come in after the heavy rains with that attitude. Our orchid greenhouse is off our master bedroom and sewing studio. Two nights ago I was sewing and I kept catching motion out of the corner of my eye. It was a HUGE wolf spider. It kept running from one side of the wall to the other. He did it like three times.

I checked the spiders first thing this morning. So far, one fellow spider seems to be enough for the now-reconstituted Octavia. I'm going to throw her some crickets later today so hopefully she'll stay full enough to keep from murdering anyone else.

I was intrigued by Bobb's comments, though. Killing other females would eliminate the competition for clutch-space, but seeing as how she didn't attack anyone until she was ravenous and living in close proximiity anyway, I think it was hunger, not rivalry.

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

Good morning Morgan
You just might be right about the hunger thing

I am reminded of those old cartoons where one castaway sees the other as a hot dog LOL

To those who question or are repulsed by Morgan’s interests in these arachnids, remember that the spiders and us are related, however distantly.
And that by observing them we can learn about ourselves.

We each have a place here in the universe – amidst the innumerable stars...
Octavia included

Morgan said...

Bobb, I got a Decent Paycheck today for some writing and treated myself to a book, The Biology of Spiders, by Rainer F. Foelix. I figure I deserve it since my spider article came out yesterday and and was well received, according the the emails forwarded to me from the publication that ran it. As much as I observe Octavia and her kin, I still have more questions than answer. The book looks technical but readable. I think I'll enjoy it.
There's another book, "A Spider's World: Senses and Behavior" that looks remarkably interesting. If you go to Amazon you can actually view pages from it. It's awesome, but at $90 (ouch!) it would be a definite splurge and I can't justify it right now. So the Foelix book will have to suffice.

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

grats on the paycheck
If you could share how one makes that happen sometime - I would be grateful

Data integrity sucks

Books are good - but if given the chance - I could learn allot if I could just spend some time with Octavia - and talk to her

Which I'm sure you do

Listen well, I'm sue spider is a difficult language to understand

At first