Selected aspects of spinning apparatus development in Araneus cavaticus (Araneae, Araneidae)


In the first half of this century, several workers observed small, seemingly glandular structures attached to the ampullate glands of spiders. Hence, they were termed accessory ampullate glands. In juvenile Araneus cavaticus, two pairs of these structures are present (starting at least with third instars), one pair attached to the major ampullate (MaA) glands and the other pair attached to the minor ampullate (MiA) glands. In adults, two pairs of accessory MaA glands and two pairs of accessory MiA glands are present. The two latter-formed pairs of accessory ampullate glands are clearly the remnants of those ampullate glands which atrophy shortly after adulthood is reached. Morphological similarities between these accessory ampullate glands and those present in juveniles provide an indication that the latter also have their origin in functional ampullate glands. A reduction in the number of ampullate glands following the last molt occurs in many spiders. The reason(s) for these reductions is unknown. In penultimate spiders close to ecdysis, we have observed that while the larger pairs of MaA and MiA glands (those that are retained in the adult) are undergoing molt-related changes which apparently render them nonfunctional, their smaller counterparts are seemingly unaffected and functional. This raises the possibility that the principal role of the smaller ampullate glands may be to assume functions during the pre-ecdysial period which are normally in the domain of the larger ampullate glands. If true, then their degeneration after the last molt would make economic sense.


Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Morphology



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



Copyright © 1991 Wiley-Liss, Inc.