how long do spiders live
Animals

Spider’s Lifespan: How Long Do Spiders Live?

Spiders are fascinating creatures with interesting physical features and extraordinary capabilities. Currently, there are over 45,000 known species of spiders in the world, some of which are known to deliver deadly bites. One of the common questions that people ask these tiny creatures is: How long do spiders live? This article discusses a spider’s lifespan.

What’s a Spider?

Spider

A spider is a predatory arachnid with eight legs and an unsegmented body comprising a head attached to the thorax and a rounded abdomen. It also has fangs that it uses to inject venom into its prey. Most species of spiders catch their prey using cobwebs made from extruding silk.

This creature is the largest order of arachnids and ranks seventh in terms of having the most diverse species among all orders of creatures. You can find spiders on every continent apart from Antarctica. They are also well-established in almost all land habitats. Despite its tiny body, a spider is not viewed as an insect because it lacks the antennae found in insects.

Most species of spiders have centralized nervous systems because their ganglia are combined into a single mass in their cephalothorax. Unlike other arthropods, a spider doesn’t have extensor muscles in its limbs. Instead, it extends them by hydraulic pressure. Its stomach features appendages with spinnerets that extrude silk to create cobwebs. The silk comes from six different types of glands found in its stomach.

Spider’s Life Cycle

Life

A spider’s lifecycle comprises three main phases of growth: egg, spiderling, and adult. Some species of spiders are known to lay up to 3,000 eggs in a single or several silk pouches. In other species, females die after laying eggs. In some species, female spiders carry their egg sacs in their chelicerae or attach them to their spinnerets.

It’s also common to find some female spiders hiding their eggs in nests or on their webs. The main reason why spiders lay so many eggs is that not all of them reach maturity. This creature goes through its larval phase within the egg. Therefore, the spiderlings that emerge when the eggs hatch are small versions of their adults.

It’s also important to mention that spiderlings do not rely on their mothers. They start their own lives immediately after hatching. A spider’s eggs can hatch within two weeks, depending on the existing conditions. For instance, in spring or summer, when the temperature is warm and moisture is plenty, the eggs can hatch in two or three weeks.

In cold seasons like winter, spider eggs usually remain dormant until the season is over.

How Long Do Spiders Live?

Live

The average lifespan of a spider is between one and two years, depending on its species. However, most species of spiders only live for one season. For example, a black widow spider has a life expectancy of about three years, while a barn funnel can live up to seven years.

A wolf spider’s life expectancy is only one year, while that of a tarantula is between 10 and 30 years. Another important factor that determines a spider’s lifespan is gender. For example, female spiders are known to live longer than males. Also, spiders face numerous threats from other wild creatures, birds, pets, and humans.

It’s important to note that spiders can survive for a long time without food. But they need to drink water frequently. Spiders drink water from condensation, dewdrops, and other sources of water like dripping faucets, pet bowls, and leaky appliances. When food is plenty, they will feed regularly.

The duration that a spider can survive without food depends on the species. For instance, the larger species of spiders live longer than their smaller counterparts. But generally, they’ll last for one to two months without food. This period is the same for both adults and baby spiders.

This helps spiders to survive when food isn’t readily available. The common food for spiders includes mosquitos, ants, flies, moths, earwigs, cockroaches, gnats, and other tiny insects. Spiders that don’t hunt with webs usually go for larger prey like grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, etc. In some instances, female spiders feed on their young ones when they hatch, especially when there’s a food shortage.

Spider’s Survival Strategies

Survival

Since spiders are continuously faced with threats from different predators, they must devise strategies to stay alive. Most spiders use the autotomy strategy to survive. This strategy involves the self-amputation of legs that may be grabbed by predators like birds. Normally, the legs break off at their coxatrochanter joints.

Interestingly, baby spiders can regenerate their legs when they break off. The new legs are tiny segmented limbs that emerge within the coxal stump at the next molt. Another effective survival strategy for spiders is the behavioral ploy like issuing threats by displaying warning colors on their bodies. For instance, the dotted coin spider shades help it to lure prey and keep predators away.

A recent study by Sean Blamires, an evolutionary biologist at the University of New South Wales discovered that female spotted coin spiders display bright orange bars on their backs to lure prey and bounce on tree trunks with push-up motions to display their marigold bellies when threatened by predators.

Spiders also survive by hiding from predators through camouflage and mimicry. For instance, over 300 species of spiders mimic the exterior appearance of the aggressively territorial ants that are normally avoided by predators. These ants are known to bite their predators, causing them agony and permanent disability. Therefore, very few predators will come near anything that looks like these ants.

The most common spiders that mimic ants have false waists and are covered with glossy fur to make their surfaces shiny and simulate the three-segmented body of an ant. These spiders also have colored spots around their eyes that resemble the compound eyes of an ant. They behave like the territorial ants by flapping their front legs close to their heads to look like feelers.

These spiders move in unpredictable zigzag patterns to mimic ants. Another survival trick for spiders is to drop quickly away from the silk web and play dead on the ground. All these tricks help to deter predators with an innate abhorrence for ants.

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