The Mothercare spider (Theridion sisyphium), common in the UK and continental Europe, has earned its name by the way the females look after their young.
Very small and strikingly marked, Mothercare spiders often pitch their webs in thistles and gorse, whose spines offer a defence against predators, as well as being useful for anchoring the web. The contrasting brown/black and white patterns on the abdomen turn out to be an effective camouflage, as they break up the shape of the spider.
Within the web, the female spider builds a dense silk retreat among leaves and leftovers of eaten insects. Here the spiderlings will hatch from a blue-green egg-sac. In their first days they are fed by their mother, who regurgitates digested food into their mouths, behaviour we associate with birds. Continue reading Mothercare spiders