Note on the Habits of a Jamaican Spider

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Abstract

OBSERVING in your issue of January 11, p. 253, an interesting note on the Nephila madagascariensis, I am prompted to send you some unpublished observations on the Jamaican species, N. clavipes. They are from the MSS. of the late Mr. William Jones (concerning whom see journ. Inst. Jamaica, 1893, p. 301), and date from over fifty years ago. The record begins: “Aranea clavipes, or the great yellowish wood-spider. I fancy Sir Hans Sloane must have been misinformed when he states that this spider's web will not only stop small birds but even pigeons. I will venture to assert that its strength would not even endure the struggling of the smallest humming-bird.” But below is another entry: “Dec. 25, 1839. I wronged the accuracy of Sir H. Sloane's statement; a little boy returning from an errand brought me a little black and yellow bird that he found entangled in a web of A. clavipes.” After this he adds a more general statement concerning the spider: “St. Thos. ye East, on bushes and outhouses,—I found in the old cooper's shop at Slamans Valley Est. in Portland, many hundreds of these, some of a monstrous size. These spiders weave an almost large (sic) spiral web, yellow and strong, like silk, glutinous or viscid, and well adapted for arresting the flight of large insects. I have frequently seen some of their lines two or three yards long. Butterflies appear their favourite food. They form an oblong, oval cocoon of a white substance like soft chamois leather, outside composed of little round-shaped compartments; the cocoon is covered over with a mesh of strong yellow thread or silk.” Finally he gives a technical description of the spider, which need not be quoted. The spider's size is said to be 1 to 1½ inches in length, with the fore-legs 2½ inches long, the second pair 2 inches, the third pair 1 inch, and the fourth pair 2 inches.

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