Does a spider need a web to catch its prey? Front view of a trap-jaw spider head (family Mecysmaucheniidae) showing pinching mouthparts that snap shut to capture prey the same size or even larger than itself. (Hannah Wood, Smithsonian/Stephanie Stone)
Does a spider need a web to catch its prey?
Lexile

What sort of spider can capture its prey without a web? We think of spiders as web-makers, but about half of all known spider species do not make webs. Still, they have organs called spinnerets. Those spin out silk for other uses. Silk can help a spider wrap up its eggs to make an egg case, line its burrow, or swing to the ground from a branch.
 
All spiders are predators. They sport a huge variety of tactics for capturing their prey. Spiders that do not make webs have other ways to get their meals. A wolf spider hunts down prey, pounces, and may use its long legs to straight-jacket it. A fishing spider gets its meal by scurrying over water towards vibrations made by prey. A bolas spider dangles sticky balls made of silk and mucus. The balls are scented to lure in moths. A spitting spider launches a sticky fluid to immobilize its victims.
 
Regardless of their capture technique, nearly all spiders use venom. Once a spider has its prey in hand (actually in its grasping appendages called "chelicerae"), it pierces it with sharp fangs to inject the venom. Spider venom can damage nervous systems or other body tissues. It all depends on the species. But the vast majority of spider venom does not cause harm to humans.
 
One group of spiders with a long name (Palpimanoids) tends to specialize on eating other spiders. What's odd is that the way these spiders capture prey may be as complex as their long scientific name. The pelican spider plucks at other spiders' webs. Then it swings its super-long chelicerae outward to pierce them after attracting them over. Another spider in the same group has vice-like chelicerae. These snap shut on its prey with an acceleration that can exceed 1,000 times the acceleration of a space shuttle. Dubbed the trap-jaw spider by Smithsonian entomologist Dr. Hannah Wood, its jaw-like parts look like they are doing splits while they wait in the open position for prey.

Learn more about how spiders capture prey in a live "Smithsonian Science How" webcast on Thursday, January 12, 2017. In "Powerful Predators: Adaptations of Trap-Jaw Spiders" (11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST on the Q?rius website), Smithsonian scientist Hannah Wood will show you the technology she uses to analyze spider predator adaptations and answer your questions live. You can also get teaching resources to use with the webcast.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 98 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How do vibrations help a fishing spider?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (50)
  • brittaniw-smi
    1/04/2017 - 03:34 p.m.

    Vibrations help a fishing spider scurry over and catch its prey.

  • gtyler-dav
    1/05/2017 - 04:14 p.m.

    I agree because it was neat to see all the spiders that don't use webs . Another reason is that some of those spiders are in the United States . A third reason there are so many types of spiders I never knew . Even though I don't really like spiders , I think this article was prity cool.

  • bkyle-dav
    1/05/2017 - 05:49 p.m.

    In response to "Does a spider need a web to catch its prey?," I disagree that a spider needs a web to catch its prey. One reason I disagree is that spiders are very clever creatures so I think they would be able to catch their prey in more than one way. Another reason is that if they don't make webs they also have they their giant fangs that are full of venom and affect the nervous system. It says in the article," A wolf spider hunts down prey, pounces, and may use its long legs to straight-jacket it. A fishing spider gets its meal by scurrying over water towards vibrations made by prey. A bolas spider dangles sticky balls made of silk and mucus. The balls are scented to lure in moths. A spitting spider launches a sticky fluid to immobilize its victims.” This shows how dangerous spiders can be in different ways. A third reason is some of the spiders use really god tactics like a bolas spider because it dangles sticky balls made of silk and mucus. Even though webs are good for catching prey, I think
    there are way more cooler ways to catch your prey than to just make a web.

  • josepho-bru
    1/06/2017 - 09:52 a.m.

    According to the article ¨Does a spider need a web to catch it´s prey,¨ The text says ¨That a fishing spider doesn´t use webs, instead it uses vibrations.¨ Based on the text, it says that a fishing spider scurries across the water to vibrations made by prey. For example: If I made a thud in my house, my mom would come up to punish me. Finally, I know how vibrations help a fishing spider.

  • kaelc-bur
    1/06/2017 - 11:23 a.m.

    Vibrations help fishing spiders because the vibrations help them to track down their prey. In fact almost all spiders use vibrations to track their prey. I personally saw a bee land on a spider's nest and saw as soon as it landed the spider ran over to eat it's prey

  • tylerh8-smi
    1/06/2017 - 01:31 p.m.

    This was a very interesting article because it gave me so many facts about different spiders.

  • wcailin-dav
    1/07/2017 - 12:36 a.m.

    My response to all spiders not making webs to catch there prey, makes me think a lot, because I was always told that spiders make webs so they can get food, because no one told me otherwise. I think its really cool that all spiders don't make webs to catch there prey, because I never knew that, and I like to learn new things, for example I read that a wolf spider hunts there prey down, pounces and puts them in a thing with there web that's like a straight jacket. I really wish I found this out earlier, but i am glad that I at least leaned it.

  • briannaf-pol
    1/10/2017 - 09:40 a.m.

    Vibrations help a fishing spider by they follow the water vibrations to catch the prey. The prey make the water vibration sounds.

  • alexar-pol
    1/10/2017 - 09:44 a.m.

    In the article "Does a Spider Need is Web to Catch Prey," it talks about the fishing spider. The vibrations help the fishing spider catch its prey. The way it knows that it's prey is there is because it is making the vibrations in the water. It knows that his food is making the vibrations.

  • christiand-pol
    1/10/2017 - 09:45 a.m.

    In the Article "Does a spider need a web to catch its prey? " vibrations help a fishing spider because it helps them catch food, It scurries in the water toward vibrations made by prey .

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT