To answer this question we need to look at several motivations for taking possession of another spiders web,
- To make use of their hunting grounds
- To hunt the spider itself
- Colony spider working collectively
But in short the answer is an emphatic yes, spiders do use other spiders webs. They do this for a variety of reasons including collaboration where the spiders work together to survive. Opportunistic hunting of other spider species by invading their web and finally territorial acquisition, where a spider will lay claim to another’s hunting grounds.
That being said, the full answer to this question is truly fascinating. Keep reading and we’ll deep into the weird and wonderful world of spiders and their webs….
Common House Spiders
Let’s start off with a more domestic example and explain some of the behaviours you might have observed in your own home.
Common house spiders tend to be territorial and don’t share webs willingly. Especially the females which are less likely to move about. They tend to be more stationary.
While males of the species move around a lot more and are likely to encounter other spiders more frequently.
We know that Spiders to eat other spiders, wether exclusively (something we’ll explore in this article) or opportunistically if one crosses their path. So in this particular case you could see a spider seize the territory of another.
This would be an example of taking another spiders hunting grounds.
Next we’ll look at an entirely different strategy where spiders cooperate together in a shared collective web…
Also known as social spiders share webs! This goes against what we commonly think as spider bevhavour. In that we think of them as solitary creatures that avoid others of their kind.
With colony spiders the opposite is true. In fact through careful study and obervation, scientist have discovered that spiders in colonies have roles assigned to them based on their personality charactoristics.
That’s right, these spiders have personalities!
How do we know this? The way the sceientist took was to place two colony spiders in a smaller container together over night. If both spiders were in the middle forming a web then they deduced that either one was docile and the other was agressive.
If both spiders were facing opposite then they knew that they were both aggressive and as a result no web building took place.
Aggressive Personality Type
The aggressive spiders carry out important roles in the colony such as defending it from predators, building on the web itself and also hunting!
Without spiders with these traits the colony would crumble and fall apart.
Docile Personality Type
At first, it wasn’t understood how each of the roles worked together. There was a theory that the docile spiders we simply taking advantage of the aggressive spiders and essentially freeloading.
This turned out to be false and infact the docile spiders serve an incredibly important role. They care for the spiderlings and egg sacks.
Due to their more docile nature they are less likely to eat the young, where as the more aggressive personality type would could do and jeapodise the colony.
As a result these two personality types compliment eachother and work together for the greater good of the colony.
This was an example of spiders working collectively for the common good on the same web. There next example we’ll look at is where spiders actively hunt and steal the webs of others…
These spiders are ancient. They’re so old that when they emerged, insects themselves didn’t exist. That’s over 200 million years ago.
That means there weren’t insects to hunt, but there were spiders!
So it might be the case that spiders hunting other spiders from a behavioural standpoint is older than spiders hunting insects.
This is ironic as common popular belief is that this behaviour is an outlier rather than the norm. When the evidence suggests that the opposite is true in terms of the amount of time spiders have displayed this behaviour.
Why are they called pelican spiders? It’s a weird name right! But as with all the best names for animals, its pretty descriptive and once you see a picture of one, you can see why they got the name!
They have a huge set of pelican nose shaped pincers. Scientist thing this is to give them an advantage when hunting other spiders as they can keep their distance from their pray and thus avoiding injury when subduing them.
Pirate spiders food source is primarily other spiders. So they have evolved to hunt their own kind.
Where are most orb-weavers tend to be more opportunist generalists. Eating whatever comes their way.
Pirate spiders have evolved venom that is specifically designed to be highly effective against other spiders.
Pirate spiders are incapable themselves of weaving webs, they can produce silk. But not at the qualities their relatives in the orb-weaver category can do.
They tend to use their silk for ambush tactics such as absailing off branches to attach unsuspecting spiders from above.
Some sub species of Pirate spiders have evolved to have elongated front legs, useful for plucking the webs of other spiders. And also subdue them in combat, giving the advantage to the invading pirate spider. Similar in fact to pelican spiders mentioned previously!
Mating rituals of pirate spiders
If that wasn’t weird enough, male pirate spiders have evolved to mate at a distance with the females. So they don’t have to be in relative close proximity.
This could be due to the heightened aggressive nature of pirate spiders being cautious around one another.
Next we’ll look at a more riskier proposition where one spider sneaks onto the web of the other and hopes they don’t notice….
Smaller males of the species have been known to hang out on the webs of the larger females.
This could be a high risk gamble from the males perspective since the female could take notice and see the male as a potentially food source.
However the males seem perfectly content to run this gambit. This might be evolutionary for certain species of orb weaver spider since the females tend to be the more dominant. In size and aggression. During the mating process females will likely consume the male.
It’s unknown if this is a voluntary sacrifice on the males part, but not all species behaviour in the same way when it comes to self preservation and some like spiders make see the continuing survival of their spiderlings through their self sacrifice as being worthwhile.
But generally speaking they are left alone.
Another example of orb weaver spiders sharing the same web would be new born spiderlings sharing the same web, very close to where they hatched.
Portia spiders are amazing creatures. They are a member of the jumping spider group and have been observerd to be intelligent problem solving creatures.
No only that they hunt and feed of other spiders almost exclusively.
To do this they employ a series of tactics when it comes to hunting their prey. When you think about it, the spiders they are hunting are hunters themselves. So the portia spider has to be extra careful and use approaches that will surprise and trick their prey.
What are portia spider hunting strategies?
Attacking from above: Portia spiders can produce silk and will use their silk to abseil from a brand that is directly above their preys web. They can then surprise the unsuspecting spider by injecting venon in them without ever knowing their was any danger.
Immitiating insects and other disturbances: Another approach is that the portia spider will land on the web of an unsepecting spider and then pluck the web to immitate either a fallen leaf, or a breeze or even an injured insect that has gotten stuck on the web itself.
When the resident spider comes to inspect they will be surprised to be greeted by a portia spider ready to pounce.
As a side note, portia spiders make great pets if you’re thinking of keeping an arachnid then they are intelligent and don’t mind being handled provided you are gentle with them.
Ok that’s it, we’ve answered the question, do spiders use other spiders webs and the answer is a definite yes, yes they do!
Not only that, there’s a bunch of different ways that spiders make use of other spiders webs.
Spiders are often misunderstood and when you start to dig deeper there’s so much do this amazing creature and the weird and wonderful variations there are in the world!
If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:
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All the best
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