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Nephila life cycle
The general life cycle - egg to spiderling to adult to egg - is the same in all the Nephila spiders, but the number of generations (egg to egg) can vary.

Scientists like to classify things - and to avoid confusion, provide unique terms for the distinct catagories.  In the case of life cycles, we classify animals and plants by how many generations they can have each year.  Most of the Nephila clavipes populations in Mexico are univoltine: they have one generation a year, which I describe on this web page. 

Links on the different stages will take you to a more detailed explanation of what we know about that particular stage of the life cycle and the information I have contributed to our knowledge.

Seasonal Cycle
Spiderlings emerge from the egg sac when conditions improve - either rains start (in seasonally dry sites) or the weather gets warmer (in seasonally cold sites).

They live together, without feeding (or feeding on debris in the web) for about a week before dispersing.
                spiderling aggregation

baby webmolting spider


In the summer, spiders live on individual webs, capturing prey and growing by molting - shedding their "skin" - actually their external skeleton.

spider buttonLearn more about growing by molting
egg sac

The females lay egg sacs attached to leaves - usually under them - and tie the leaf to the twig so that it won't fall to the ground.  The spiderlings hatch but stay inside the egg sac for the winter.
The spiderlings stay within the silken egg sac, waiting for better conditions.  Early-emerging spiderlings risk dying if the weather turns bad again.

Nclavipes in
Late Summer:
The dominant male gets the first chance to mate when a female matures.

Neither the male nor the female will molt again, so the size they have at first maturing is the size they have for their life. 

This turned out to be important when I looked at reproductive success.
spider buttonLearn more about maturation strategies
Males mature before the females do.  Once mature, a male cannot spin a capture web (he actually lacks the silk glands for the sticky spiral). So he lives with larger juvenile females, stealing prey or eating silk from their web.

If more than one male finds a female, the males fight to establish who is dominant (usually the biggest male), and he gets the most to eat.
Male on Female's web