Pisaura, a generous spider

The story of a male spider preparing his mating


Picture yourself in a meadow, walking through green blades of grass.

[bird and grasshopper sounds fade in]

You are a nursery web spider, Pisaura mirabilis. You are an adults, but as a male, it’s not in your plans to make a nursery web. Your goal is to find a nice prey, wrap it in your best silk, and bring it to a female to mate with her. The wrapping is not so much to please the female, but to reshape your gift. She will have to eat from a nice round gift in a way that ensures you can have better access to her genitalia, as well as a longer time to do your deed.

Here, you spotted a nice big fly not far from you. Slowly crawling towards it, you leap and capture it! It will make a nice present. You are already quite well fed, so there’s no need to eat some of its juice. It will all be for your mate. Let’s hope she will appreciate the effort!


Albo, M.J., Toft, S. and Bilde, T. (2011) ‘Condition dependence of male nuptial gift construction in the spider Pisaura mirabilis (Pisauridae)’, Journal of Ethology, 29(3), pp. 473–479. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-011-0281-1.

Andersen, T. et al. (2008) ‘Why Do Males of the Spider Pisaura mirabilis Wrap Their Nuptial Gifts in Silk: Female Preference or Male Control?’, Ethology, 114(8), pp. 775–781. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0310.2008.01529.x.

Prokop, P. (2019) ‘Male preferences for nuptial gifts and gift weight loss amongst the nursery web spider, Pisaura mirabilis’, Journal of Ethology, 37(3), pp. 363–370. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-019-00612-7.

Stålhandske, P. (2001) ‘Nuptial gift in the spider Pisaura mirabilis maintained by sexual selection’, Behavioral Ecology, 12(6), pp. 691–697. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/12.6.691.