November 8, 2016 – Last week, I had a Halloween Surprise – More Hatching Spiders! In my last post, I mentioned that a stand of water hyacinths at the St. Augustine Road Fish Management Area were beginning to bloom. These are non-native plants, often a big headache for Florida waterways, but the blooms are lovely. I’ve been stopping every day to admire them and on October 30, I noticed a large spider sitting out in the open atop a large web. I don’t think this web had been there the day before. Overnight, there had been a very heavy fog that left dew on everything, so I figured the web might have been there all along but I hadn’t noticed it until it was dew-covered.
On October 31st (Halloween!), the big spider was nowhere to be found, but there was an obvious mass of something moving inside the web:
Can you see them? There were hundreds of tiny spider hatchlings!
Two days later, they were still in there, but they had moved much lower down into the web. It was really cold that morning so maybe they were huddled up to keep warm?
Yesterday, a week from when I saw the mother spider, there were still a few hatchlings left. Sometime over the past two days, most had left the web.
I looked this spider up on InsectIdentification.org and the closest I can get is that it is what is commonly called a “Fishing Spider.” They live in aquatic plants and feed on things like small insects, tadpoles and fishes. They are also called nursery web spiders because they build a nursery web when their eggs are ready to hatch. So she must have been in the hyacinths all along and I was lucky enough to come along just after she built the nursery!