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Reproduction and development of the spider nephila edulis araneidae araneae



Reproduction and development of the spider nephila edulis araneidae araneae



Australian Journal of Zoology 26(3): 501-518



The sexually dimorphic Nephila edulis breeds during the autumn (Feb.-May). The large female produces 1 egg-sac/season, containing an average of 383 eggs. The web of immature females sometimes incorporates a stabilamentum. Mating behavior can result in the death of the male and is different from the ritualized mating behavior of N. maculata. The male of N. edulis always begins its mating sequence after a female has caught prey. N. edulis fed predominantly on leafhoppers, dealing with its prey by a stereotyped attack sequence. The egg mass of N. edulis is laid in a complex egg-sac of yellow silk. Each 1.14-mm diameter egg is coated with minute, regular particles which may have water-resistant properties. The prehatching development time is 29 days at 20.degree. C and 42-87 days in the field. External embryonic stages are similar to other araneomorph spiders. Pigmentation, developed in embryos of N. edulis after the germ band stage, is associated with yolk breakdown. External changes during the first 3 posthatching instars are described. Emergence from the egg-sac at the 3rd instar is correlated with the depletion of yolk reserves at this stage. The function of the egg-sac of N. edulis is not related to protection from extremes of temperature or humidity but to protection of the eggs from predators and parasites.

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