Help caring for a possibly-paralyzed spider

I recently found a Dolomedes albineus that I thought was dead, but she still could move her spinnerets, make silk, and slightly move her legs and chelicerae. I think she might’ve been paralyzed by a wasp, because of these minor movements and possible puncture on the ventral opisthosoma/abdomen from the wasp’s sting. I have already given her water to drink (by placing a drop on her mouth) and she drank it all. I have never cared for a paralyzed spider before - any tips to help her recover?
(I know she won’t last way too long since she’s already mature, but I thought I should try to help a spider that was seemingly abandoned by a wasp.)

Most likely there’s a wasp egg in the spider. When it hatches, the larva will eat the spider. The spider was paralyzed, instead of killed, so it would still be fresh when the young wasp hatched.

Chances of recovery for the spider are zero.

2 Likes

For a spider the size, I would think a large wasp would be the only to take it on, which seem to bring the spiders back to their nests. I found the spider healthy, and then not a couple days later, so maybe I could be wrong about it being stung, and instead it could just be sick? I’m not sure.

Doesn’t have to be a large wasp. Poison is a common weapon of the small against the large. Not all, or even most, wasps bother with nests. Some just leave their paralyzed egg hosts where they find them. Or it could be some other injury. Either way, your choices are put it out of its misery now or let nature take its course.

1 Like

Arthropods can generally live quite long without food. You could provide enough moisture and see if anything hatches out. If a wasp does hatch out, you might be able to ID it and would then know a host/parasite interaction. Many of these aren’t known yet, and it might be enough to publish a note if the relationship was novel.

4 Likes

I have seen startled wasps drop paralyzed spiders before laying an egg. There are also reports of successfully rehabbing those spiders on reddit, especially from people claiming that’s how they got their pet tarantula

5 Likes

Presumably, it would involve keeping them alive until the spider’s metabolism breaks down the poison. That would not have time to happen if there was a wasp larva inside (because it would finish eating the spider first), but if there was no larva, it should theoretically be possible.

1 Like

Don’t conflate pompilid spider wasps with the behaviors of other kinds of parasitoid wasps like braconids. The kinds of wasps that target these larger spiders don’t lay an egg until the spider is tucked away in a burrow; and furthermore the egg is external, not internal. I believe the larva would also feed externally.

There are records of people feeding paralyzed spiders water until they recover (taking anywhere from hours to weeks), but from what I can see it is unpredictable whether or not they can recover full movement.

7 Likes

Yeah, a colleague in Arizona who I trust nursed a paralyzed tarantula but they said it took months for the spider to recover full mobility.

2 Likes