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Not tonight, dear

One evening, I spotted a female spider outside my bedroom window, being wooed by a handsome suitor. He had designs on a romantic sunset adventure but, despite his insistence, she turned down his advances and he was left to return home disappointed:

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What was the matter with her? I wasn’t sure, but on closer inspection, something seemed to be going wrong with her body. It looked like it was starting to fall apart. I looked on in horror, but then I realised: she was moulting! Something I mistook for a fly’s wing caught in her web is in fact the shed carapace, the hard skin over the front half of the spider (the cephalothorax).

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It was a relatively quick process and in a few minutes she was free of the old skin:

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Before too long, she was satisified enough with her new skin that she settled back into her nest for a cosy evening in alone:

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The final photo is of the exuvia itself, seen more clearly in the dawn light when the sun wasn’t facing the camera and making photography even harder than trying to get to the window was already. You can make out all the details better here: the chelicerae (fangs), the pedipalps (arms, if you like) and the holes in the carapace where the eyes went.

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So there you go. Next time a man invites you to have some rumpy-pumpy with him, you have a perfect excuse: “Not tonight, dear, I’m moulting.