Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Cat-faced Spider

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QUESTION: A Cat-faced spider lives in my south-facing dining room window. We are located in Montana (USDA zone 4). She is a delightful guest and welcome. My questions are:
1.Should I assume that she is gravid due to her size (l/2-inch-plus diameter)? Would she have overwintered unmated?
2.I look daily for an egg sack. If/when I find one, how many days does it take at room temperature for the spiderlings to emerge?
3.How long after creating the egg sack will she live?
4.I could arrange outdoor accommodations for her before she produces the egg sack, but our nighttime temperatures are in the 20s and I don't want her to freeze. How low a temperature can she tolerate, especially given that she wintered indoors?
 Thanks for your very informative web pages, and willingness to answer questions!

ANSWER: Mary Jane:

I'd like to see an image in order to confirm that it is a Cat-faced Spider.  It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but....

Their lifespan is not that long, normally, and my personal belief is that efforts to extend a spider's lifespan artificially aren't readily justifiable.

Spiders *are* build for long-term fasting, though, so it doesn't surprise me that she's still alive.  She sounds a tad on the small side, though.  Mature females are usually somewhat larger.

I cannot answer your other questions, having not had the individual spider under observation for as long as you have.

Eric

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your help, Eric. I will try to send a picture.  This could take a day or so - I'm a couple of generations older than the folks who are good at photos on-line.
  I'm not trying to extend her lifespan, I just don't want to put her out into temperatures cold enough to kill her.
  I should have said that it is her body only, that is 1/2 to 5/8 inches across, not a toe to toe measurement.
  She is a delight. I toss her a fly every few days and she wraps it up and carries it off. But, I'd rather her children, if there are to be any, hatch outdoors.
  Thanks for your patience.  I'll be back with a photo/s.
Mary Jane

Answer
Thanks, Mary Jane:

These kinds of questions always pose a dilemma for me because while I like for people to like and respect insects and spiders, I also want them to understand that nature takes pretty good care of her own.

I look forward to "meeting" your spider via your images. :-)

Eric

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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