Subject: Pholcus phalangioides Behavior
Location: Jamul, California
November 11, 2012 7:58 pm
Today we watched as a group of cellar spiders first fought over and then communally dined on a trapped housefly.
One of the larger spiders chased the others away, at one point almost appearing to ”box” with another. Then the bigger spider spent some time shoring up the web around the fly. Finally, all the spiders moved in, jockeyed for position, and peacefully settled down to dine. I’ve never witnessed this behavior before; needless to say, it was fascinating!
We are speechless at this awesome documentation and the spectacular close up photograph of this communal feeding behavior of the very domestic and harmless Cellar Spiders. We will speculate more later.
LOL. Then my work here is done! Looking forward to alternative interpretations of what we observed.
Thanks, Dan, for looking and for all the hard work that you do!
Hi again Leslie,
We suspect the largest spider is most likely a female and perhaps she was “boxing” with another female as a means of exerting her dominance. We wonder what advantage there is to communal feeding. This is such a fascinating posting. Thanks again for sending it in.
I joked on facebook that perhaps this is what Thanksgiving dinner looks like when you’re a cellar spider.
They were there for hours, incidentally. This morning, all are dispersed. . . .
Update from Leslie
Hi, Dan. As you have no doubt figured out, I keep a very spider-friendly home. As a result, I’ve got a lot of webs, but the pic below I felt worth sharing. More cellar spider work, this was woven in the circular piece that tops a lampshade harp. I’d like to think that those of us who accommodate spiders get our own personal dream-catcher from time to time.
Though we have Cellar Spiders in our cottage office without a basement, we have never witnessed this communal dining nor the dreamcatcher web. We do love the way Cellar Spiders shake their webs when they are disturbed.