The Namibian deserts are home to the exquisite Dancing white lady spider, a member of the huntsman family. These creatures have earned their nickname ‘dancing white ladies’ due to their creamy shade and nuanced tap-like movements; however, they rely on starlight for navigation despite having poor eyesight. Nevertheless, they take time to use this light source advantageously.
Dancing white lady spider: Identification.
The dancing white lady spider has a creamy, white shading. Their bodies are larger than 5 in, and their legs are near twice the size of the body at 10 inches.
Dancing white lady spider: Habitat
The Dancing white lady spider, native to the Namib Desert’s dunes in Namibia, can typically be found inhabiting burrows that span around 10 feet. Unsurprisingly, these nocturnal spiders remain tucked underground during the day to avoid the scorching desert temperatures while they hunt at night.
The dancing white lady spider shelters in their burrows during the day, and they venture beyond these areas at night. Burrowed deep into the sand, often measuring up to 15 inches long and 10 inches deep, and with a 30-degree angle lean, its particular construction creates cooler temperatures that are more favorable for them.
In addition, silk further ensures stability around this space by helping keep loose sand in place. These burrows are usually occupied for two months before relocation occurs – sometimes hidden under a camouflaged covering.
Dancing white lady spiders: Diet.
The dancing white lady spider is a voracious predator, able to feast upon 97+ species of nocturnal insects and reptiles. Their diet can range from beetles and moths to arachnids like scorpions or spiders; this selection depends heavily on the animal life in their environment. The consistency of prey makes them adaptable omnivore that does not have seasonal limitations for sustenance.
The dancing white lady spider is a forager. Foraging usually occurs within a 10-foot radius of the burrow and rarely occurs during night wanderings beyond this radius. Dancing white lady spiders forage for food for several nights, followed by a period of rest.
Typically, the dancing white lady spider captures prey that is two-thirds its size or smaller. However, now and then, larger targets can be caught by this arachnid. This spider species employ a sit-and-wait foraging technique, waiting in their designated region until meals come.
Due to heightened competition and food scarcity among large males, some specimens are known to practice cannibalism as well.
Dancing white lady spider: Reproduction.
The dancing white lady spider is known for its reliably timed reproductive cycles, with a gestation period lasting approximately 15 days.
This seasonality can be attributed to the male spiders who molt into adulthood during winter while their female counterparts remain year-round; this pattern is demonstrated through decreased egg counts in colder months.
Upon completion, the clutch typically has around 80 eggs. It encloses them in an impenetrable cocoon buried deep within their burrow.
Dancing white lady mating habits.
The Dancing White Lady Spider is a promiscuous species that takes to the night air for mates. The adult males will travel far and wide, while females and spiderlings are content with remaining within their 10-foot radius – all still taking part in late-night courting behavior!
During their night-time wandering, male dancing white lady spiders may be preyed upon by gerbils and other desert organisms. Females have an average life expectancy of six months, while males only live for 1 to 2 months due to the dangers posed when they journey outside their 10-foot territory radius.
Additionally, during the mating season, these creatures are at risk as females can mistake a mate’s signal for that of potential prey and attack them fatally.
Acting conflicts for white lady spiders.
As the male dancing white ladies traverse on their journeys, they may come across up to five different male territories. During this time, these spiders will compete for mates using aggressive and warning signals to assert dominance over one another.
As a result, they are not uncommon to interfere in an already-established mating ritual if given a chance. In particular, this is relevant for bigger males. Those who don’t vary much in size must stay away from larger males; they’ll use a sand drumming display to signal other adult dancing white lady spiders that they are present – either for mating or warning them off.
This type of “drumming” is evident when the spider moves around its burrow and has become an adapted method of communicating with others.
Male and female white lady spiders often mate on successive nights, with larger males mating more frequently than smaller ones. Mating is restricted to a small cluster of females. Vibrational signals travel through the sand when male spiders detect a nearby female burrow; however, they must be careful that these seismic signs differ from those of predators or face being attacked and killed by the female spider.
Further recommended reading about spiders.
Spider pages: Learn how to identify and avoid these spiders.