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Spiders Seek Spiders for Dinners, Lunches and Breakfasts

By: Mr Martyn Robinson, Michael Hugill, Category: At The Museum, Date: 25 Mar 2013

Believe it or not, our jumping spiders only eat other spiders. Can you help us feed them?

Spiders Seek Spiders for Dinners, Lunches and Breakfasts #1

Stuart Humphries © Australian Museum

As autumn draws the year ever closer to winter, this is the time when many baby spiders hatch out. Most of the adult spiders, of the web-spinning type, die during the cold, winter weather and their babies (or eggs in some cases) are what survives the winter months.

The eggs are better insulated, and the babies can find better conditions or enough food than the old comparatively bulky adults can in winter.

At the museum the colony of Portia fimbriata jumping spiders follow this rule of nature, and the adults are trying to lay as many eggs as they can before they ‘drop off their twig’, while the newly-hatched babies are just beginning to explore their surroundings and look for food.

Herein lies the problem – all members of the genus Portia feed ONLY on other spider species – they seem to sicken and die if reduced to feeding on insects – even if you can convince them to try. This means that I, as the person in charge of the Portia colony, need lots of spiders to feed them.

In particular BABY spiders are what I need

If you find, and do not want, spiders AND their round fuzzy egg-sacs, please bring them in to the museum in an escape proof jar and leave them with Search & Discover on Level 2. Please exercise care and of course even greater care should be taken if there are children around.

Place a jar over the spider and then slip a piece of card or stiff paper between the spider and jar, and the ground or wall it was on. Tip the jar right-way up and the spider should drop into the jar. Replace the card quickly with a lid. After adding a few SMALL holes or slits in the lid to provide air, all that needs to be done is to keep the spider out of direct sunlight and drop it in to the Australian Museum!

Please don't spray the spiders!

The baby Portia will be most pleased to see some new spiders and hopefully will then stop looking at their siblings as being on the menu.