What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Love Webspinners
April 20, 2014 12:46 pm
I have a female webspinner under my toilet and have had at least one since December 2012.  They are cute insects and very endearing.  I’ve had 4 or 5 generations and each is unique in the direction they take their web tunnels and how they behave.  They can reproduce without a male and I’ve named each one.  The most recent is Wynona and I’ve found and saved 2 different males and “introduced” them to Wynona’s web where they’ve disappeared.  The first male, Wylie,  was successful in mating since a baby was seen 3 weeks later in the web tunnel that Wynona built around the base of the toilet.  I think each generation lives approximately 6 months.  They supposedly molt 3 times before attaining adulthood.  They are supposed to be very social and take good care of their young. I’ve never seen two at the same time.  I watch Wynona run back and forth in her tunnel (females never turn around but males can) and sometimes she extends her tunnels outwards or up the toilet bowl a few inches
.  The first webspinner, Wilma, built a tunnel a couple of inches from the toilet outward and even built a chimney at the end which she would rise out of to “look around” seeking a male.  She was the bravest and least skittish of the generations. I’d put a small drowned gnat in Wilma’s web every few days or so and watch as she ate them (even though everything I’ve read says they are herbivores).  I think they survive on the springtails and algae that must be in the humid area around the toilet.  I’d never seen them before and it took 3 months to solve the mystery.  I refuse to let anyone harm them.  I discovered they must have tunnels under the linoleum around the toilet because the last male disappeared under the linoleum looking for Wynona or one of her daughters.  If you find one – get a good magnifying glass and watch it – they spin their web tunnels upside down at times and are very interesting to watch.  When they wave their front legs around (spinning webs) – they look like they are waving at you with baseball mitt paws.  They are the coolest bugs around.  I’d love to catch her and relocate her to a terrarium but I’m afraid the move would kill her or separate her from her family and she wouldn’t have easy access to the food-source (algae or springtails), if that is what they are eating.
Signature: Kathi

Hi Kathi,
We wish you had sent an image, but since you did not, we are illustrating your posting with a Webspinner image from our archives.  We are also tagging you with the Bug Humanitarian Award for allowing your Webspinners to cohabitate with you in your home.  You did not provide a location for your sighting.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for the Humanitarian award.  I live in Henderson, Nevada.  If I can find a good picture of one of my webspinners, I’ll send it to you. Meanwhile, the one from your collection is a great male webspinner ;-).
Thanks for putting up such a great website.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Henderson, Nevada

4 Responses to Webspinners

  1. Joshua says:

    Brilliant observations! I raised several generations from a few nymphs I found on a banana plant and also noted a lot of the things you have, as well as some social behaviors between females and young and male-male competition. If they’re doing well under the toilet, enjoy them there!
    If you do keep them in captivity, they adjust much better if caught in a group and if some of their original webbing is preserved.

  2. Federico says:

    Hello, I am really impressed about your observation. I am a student of Architecture from the University of Stuttgart and I am currently studying the structure of the web spinner, do you have any knowledge about how do they build together? And also do they attach their tunnel to the surrounding?

    Thank you

  3. Kathi says:

    Yes, the females do attach their webs to things. In my situation, they built the web tunnels attached to the floor and going part-way up the toilet bowl. I believe that the first several generations there was only one female that had one offspring which was a female so I never saw two together. I never saw two web spinners working on webs together. The males would only travel in the tunnels and could turn around whereas the females would only run forwards and backwards. The females are the only ones I saw building tunnels with their front leg spinners. The spinners on the front two legs look almost like pointed mittens (minus the thumb). When the females spin the webs for their tunnels they lie on their backs and wipe their spinners back and forth around them as they move forward. There are some videos of webspinners on the internet running forwards and backwards and also biting a hole in their web in order to drink rain water and then repairing the web. They also attach their webs to tree trunks.

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