Start of the the fourth Honduran curlyhair tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) “pairing”, January 15, 2014. Click/double click to enlarge.
The fourth pairing turned out to be a flop, of sorts. The male produced his fourth sperm web three days earlier. When introduced to the female’s cage he showed no interest. There was no drumming on the part of either spider this time. The female remained on the silken mat she produced after the second pairing.
When I introduced him to the area in front of her, she approached him, he touched her front legs, she raised up her cephalothorax and frontmost pair of legs, and spread apart her fangs for him to grasp. She was willing to breed, he was not. At this point, he moved slowly away and, once a bodylength or so away from her, ran up the side and out of her enclosure.
I think the pairing part is done. She is preoccupied with staying in the area of the the silken mat she has spun. Her feeding has dropped off, but I suspect that is temporary. I wanted to move her to a much larger enclosure in December, but did not do so once the male produced his sperm web. I wanted all pairings to occur in her original enclosure, which I thought would be pretty pheromone-filled, increasing the likelihood of a successful pairing.
If the male spins another sperm web I may give it another try, but I think we’re ready to move on to the next stage, so at this point we await an egg sac. It’ll be months until we can determine whether anything comes of this. Whether it does or not, it’s been fascinating to go through this process. I’ve learned a lot from the many invertebrate people who have readily shared their knowledge with me, and both spiders come out of this whole thing healthy and certainly none the worse for the experience.
Special thanks to Jen Newman, Heartland Invertebrates, who has mentored me throughout this process, and for her willingness to answer my questions promptly and in great detail during the last four weeks!