The Small House Spider
by Paul Hampshire, Australia
The Small house spider might seem insignificant and uninteresting to the householder, but under the microscope this spider is quite exotic. My specimens are collected and frozen before maceration in 15% KOH. After thawing, the abdominal contents are squeezed out with fine watercolour brushes and washed in tap water. They are then pressed between two miscroscope slides using small bulldog cliips and placed in 95% ethanol for several days until it is convenient to continue processing. Specimens are then placed in a 50/50 mixture of ethanol and xylene in glass bottles (spice jars) until a further transfer into 100% xylene. The specimens can be kept in xylene until permanent mounts are made.
Fangs of the female. Behind the fangs are two rows of serrated edges to the mouth parts with many hairs for filtering out solid particles of food.
Male palp. This is the sexual organ of the male spider. Sperm is discharged onto a silken web and sucked into the palpal bulb. During mating the sperm is transferred to the female via the epigynum where it can be stored for several months.
The female epigynum. On the left is the narrow chanel that guides the tarsal palps of the male during mating. To the right of the heart-shaped epigynum (dark brown) are the internal sperm pockets (feint circular lines) where the sperm is stored before fertilisation.
I am no expert on spider physiology or taxonomy, but I am happy to receive comments on these pictures.
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