Development & Reproduction

    Like all members of the animal kingdom, the Brazilian Wandering Spider is dioecious meaning that it has separate sexes (male and female). Spiders always undergo sexual reproduction and this does not change within this species. In almost all species of spiders, including P. fera, the female is larger than the male. This means that the male will have to approach the female with caution when attempting to mate because of the possible risk that the female will attempt to eat the male. The male’s way of showing this is by performing some sort of “dance” or ritual. In the case of the P. fera mating is very competitive and males will often fight with one another over the females and females will often turn down many males before she decides on a male that she wishes to mate with. The courting ritual for the male P. fera is to vibrate his pedipalps (which are sensory organs next to the mouth). To show that the female is willing to mate she will remain passive, in some cases vibrate her pedipalps, and not chase the male away. However after the actual mating process has occurred, the male will then run away or be consumed by the female. Now that the female has the sperm she can either fertilize the eggs right away or keep the sperm separate for up to a year until she is ready.
    Generally a few weeks after copulation occurs, the female will lay her eggs. The eggs are not fertilized until right before they are laid. As the eggs leave the female body they will be covered in a clear gelatinous liquid which will eventually dry and hold the eggs together in a large mass. After she has laid all of her eggs, sometimes upwards of a 1000, the female will then encase the eggs in silk.

    After the eggs hatch, the development of the P. fera can be divided into 2 main stages: larval and nympho-imaginal. The larval stage consists of both the prelarva and larva. The prelarva is characterized by a lack of mobility, incomplete leg segmentation, lack of hair and spines, no claws, barely differentiable spinnerets, and lack of sexual organs. The prelarva stage consists of the period of time immediately after the spider leaves the egg until the spider has gone through either one or two molts. After molting a couple of times the spider will resemble the larva stage. The larva stage is characterized by very little mobility, complete segmentation, the development of (undifferentiable) hairs and spines, simple claws, a cheliceral claw that lacks a poison canal, spinnerets without spigots, as well as undeveloped sexual organs. The larva will go through another one to two molts and then enter into the first stage of the nympho-imaginal stage which is called the nymph stage. This stage is characterized by complete mobility, a large variety of hairs and spines, differentiated claws as well as a fully developed cheliceral claw and functional spinnerets. The spider will then go through between 5-10 more molts in which the only changes will be increase of size. After the last molt the spider will gain functional sexual organs and be considered a self-sufficient adult. 

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