Cool Facts About Crazy Eight Legs
April 7, 2014
Spiders spin one of the strongest materials on Earth, strategically capture their prey and can defy gravity by walking straight up walls. They reside in every continent on the planet, and with about 40,000 known spider species, they are a force to admire. You never know when information about spiders will come in handy. Here are eight big spider facts you can carry around with you for a rainy day:
- The strength of silk produced by a spider is comparable to steel in that its tensile strength is equal to a mid-range value of steel tensile strength. (Tensile strength is the amount of stress a material can take in before it breaks.) The spider uses this silk to build their webs and trap their prey, and it is known for its unusual combination of strength and elasticity.
- Some spiders live under water with the fish. Water spiders are able to spin an air bubble from its silk to serve as an oxygen mask of sorts that allows it to remain underwater for over a day at a time. They even lay their eggs underwater in these air containers.
- A certain species of spider builds decoys of itself. Some insects use camouflage and others flash conspicuous tactics as defense mechanisms, but a certain species of orb spider actually build decoys with materials such as plant parts, remains of eaten prey and egg sacs.
- The smaller the spider, the larger its brain, relative to its body size. Tiny spiders have such big brains for their body size that sometimes the organs can spill into the rest of their cavities, such as their legs. This explains their ability to create such intricate webs, no matter how small the spider.
- The Ghost Trees of Pakistan may have helped lower the number of mosquitos that year, acting as tree-sized spider webs. In the summer of 2011, in Sindh, Pakistan, people woke up to entire trees that were covered in spider webs as millions of spiders crawled to the safety of the branches to avoid the recent flooding.
- Some spiders don't wait for prey to come to their webs. They go and steal it from other webs. It's called kleptoparasitic behavior, and they often also eat the spider that spun the web from which they stole the food.
- There is such a thing as a vegetarian spider. A spider found in Central America and Mexico prefers eating the acacia plant over animals and other insects. It does have to compete sometimes with the neighboring ants for this source of food, but it is able to sneak leaves away one at a time when the ants are not looking.
- It's not just snakes. Spiders molt, too. Although it happens more frequently when spiders are young, some spiders will molt throughout their adult life as well.
And one for the road: most spiders don't actually eat their prey, they drink their prey by liquefying them first with a digestive enzyme. Spiders are incredible creatures that make this planet a bit creepier, a bit cooler and a whole lot more interesting. Discover more interesting facts about other insects in our pest library!