Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeConsider ThisBaby jumping spiders suckle milk from their moms

Baby jumping spiders suckle milk from their moms

Much like baby mammals nursing at the teats of their mothers, some baby jumping spiderlings are entirely dependent on nutritious spider milk secreted and fed to them by their mothers. What’s more, spider mothers continue to care for and feed their offspring the nutritious milk-like fluid – which contains nearly four times the protein of cow’s milk – into their subadult lives and long after they’re able to forage on their own, a recent study finds.

By Sarefo – Own work, shared through wikimedia commons. Link. These spiders are native to Taiwan and is 6.6 mm (1/4 inch) in size. In addition to providing milk to its young this spider is unique because, of the nearly 48,000 known different species of spiders, it is one of about 120 known to tolerate the company of others (including their own siblings) for more than three weeks, and one of only around 30 species of spiders known to engage in life-long social lives.


According to the results, this newly identified and peculiar behavior compares both functionally and behaviorally to lactation in mammals and hints to the possibility that long-term, milk-provisioning maternal care may be more common in the animal kingdom than previously believed.

Three-week old juveniles sucking milk from mother. The red star was added to help you find the mother. Photo from supplementary materials provided to the original paper.

Toxeus magnus is a species of ant-mimicking jumping spider. Laboratory observations show the young spiderlings first drinking from droplets deposited on the nest’s surface and then directly sucking from the mother’s egg-laying opening. According to Chen et al., spiderlings remained in the nest and nursed on spider milk for nearly 40 days, shortly before reaching sexual maturity. Furthermore, the authors found that while nursing was not critical to offspring’s survival after becoming independent, their mother’s presence during their young lives greatly assured their overall health and adult survival. The mothers’ nursing and care also seemed important for maintaining numbers of adult female offspring required for optimal reproductive success of the spider; although the mothers treated all juveniles the same, only daughters were allowed to return to the breeding nest after sexual maturity, the authors observed.

Want More?

If, like me, you suddenly wondered “how far does a jumping spider jump,” here’s an answer. The largest of the jumping spiders at 25 mm (about an inch), Hyllus gigantus can jump four times its body-length, or the equivalent of a human jumping the length of a school bus. Here’s a 2:52 video showing the spider jumping.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Vothhttps://onpasture.com
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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