For nearly grown spiderlings, lingering in their mother's web instead of setting off on their own turns out to be a boon for the mom, as well as themselves.
"This was fairly surprising," says Thomas C. Jones of University of Tennessee in Knoxville. All those extra mouths could easily have been a drag on the mother.
Weeks before they leave home, youngsters of Anelosimus studiosus are perfectly capable of spinning their own webs. Yet they often hang around, feeding from the maternal web, occasionally even mating there. They do spinning but no child care if the mom lays a new clutch.
Despite the potential for stressing the mom, both she and the hangers-on fare better together than either generation does