Fire Spider by Meg Lyman
12×16″ gouache on Colourfix (relevant WIP)
In the long-ago days before they were sentient, Nephila females simply built webs and waited for males to come to them. They’d hold out for a good specimen and eat the rest. But as their brains grew, so did selection pressures. Impressively fuzzy joints, a big, sturdy web, and an intimidating abdomen were no longer guarantees of a mate. Competition escalated ridiculously over the millennia. Modern Nephila females have taken to night-time fire spinning to impress potential mates, and the competition has evolved into festive tournaments where betting is lively. And they still eat inferior males when they can get away with it.