Spiders always show up in our attics, basements, crawlspaces, and other dark places in the house. Some people catch them and put them back outside, while others just squish them to kill them off.
But, barring a person squishing them, how long do spiders live?
The biggest factors in a spider’s life span are the species and its gender. On average, different types of spiders can have life spans ranging from under a year to nearly twenty years.
Males typically live much shorter lives than females because many die from mating or are eaten after mating with females.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about spiders and dive into a typical spider’s life cycle.
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What Are Spiders?
Spiders are a very big family of arthropods. Arthropods are a group of animals with a hard exoskeleton, no spinal cord, and segmented bodies.
Spiders belong to the arachnid group. They’re not the only arachnid; scorpions, ticks, and mites are also arachnids. You’ll find these kinds of animals on every continent except for Antarctica.
They’re also one of the most diverse kinds of animals in the world, with nearly 50,000 different species.
Generally, spiders have a large abdomen and a small head. They usually have eight legs, which they use to climb up walls and grasp prey.
For the most part, all spiders can produce silk. Not all of them spin big webs, though; they can live in various nests. Spiders have multiple glands in their abdomen that produce a silky fluid. They push it out and can weave it together to create strands.
Only one species of spider is an herbivore. The rest are all predators and feed on other animals. Spiders cannot eat solids because their guts are too narrow. To eat, they inject digestive fluids into their food and dissolve their insides. Then they drink their prey.
To inject their prey, spiders have fangs. They don’t have chewing mandibles like many other insects, just fangs. Spiders can also deliver venom through their teeth, though only a few of the thousands of spider species are dangerous to humans.
Spider Life Cycles
No matter the species, all spiders go through three stages of development in their lives. They start out as eggs, grow into spiderlings, and the final stage is a complete adult spider.
After mating, the female spider can store sperm until she is ready to create her eggs. They use silk to make a sac that holds all the eggs.
The number of eggs can vary depending on the spider species, but it can be anywhere from just a few to hundreds. Spider eggs take a few weeks to hatch. In colder regions, the eggs will incubate through the cold season and hatch when it warms up.
Many mothers are protective of both egg sacs and young. Some spiders simply guard the eggs, while other mothers carry the egg sac with them everywhere. Others leave the eggs alone.
When the eggs hatch, spiderlings emerge. They can look almost identical to their parents, though they will be very tiny in comparison.
Once out of the egg, most spiders immediately spread out. Some walk away, while others spin a parachute out of silk and float away.
Spiderlings mature as they grow and molt. Usually, it takes five to ten molts before they reach maturity. Females are almost always larger than males, which means it takes them longer to become adults.
Spiders are ready to mate as soon as they reach adulthood. Females almost always live longer than males, with many males dying right after mating.
Either the female eats the male, or he simply dies, having served his purpose.
The entire life cycle can happen in as little as a season or over a few years.
How Long Do Spiders Live?
How long a spider lives depends on the type of spider. Some live for a few months or a season, while others can live up to two years. A few long-lived species can even reach twenty years of age, as is the case for tarantulas and some wolf spiders.
We’ve said that different types of spiders have different lifespans. They have averages ranging from a few months to twenty years. But which spiders fall on the high and low end of that spectrum?
Common house spiders tend to be the shortest-lived ones. Yes, those black spiders that live in your attic are actually a species of spider.
Most of them live for about a year, but some larger ones can live for a bit longer.
Wolf spiders are a good example of a spider in the middle. They live for about two to three years, though males may only live for one.
Wolf spiders are a bit unique in the spider world. The spiderlings stay by the mother and get carried around by her for a while.
The largest spiders tend to have the longest lives. Tarantulas are known to live for up to twenty years, with some estimates taking them up to thirty-five years.
Then, other spiders can live for even longer. Left undisturbed, trapdoor spiders have been observed to surpass the age of forty! Number 16 was a prime example of an old spider, but she wasn’t close to dying when she was taken from us.
Number 16, the Oldest Spider
One incredibly notable spider was Number 16. She was a wild Australian trapdoor spider that lived on a reserve and was well-studied. She died in 2016 but was the longest-lived spider on record.
She was studied by a researcher named Barbara York from March 1974 until she died in 2016. Number 16 was one of 101 spiders who made burrows at the research site, living her entire life in the same hole.
Number 16 lived for an astonishing 43 years, but she didn’t die of old age. A parasitic wasp was what eventually did her in. So who knows how long she would have lived without that?
How Long Can Spiders Go Without Food?
The amount of time a spider can go between feedings can vary quite a bit between species. Generally, though, they can go a month or two without eating.
Spiders don’t have a normal routine for eating. They eat when they catch prey. Larger spiders can go longer than smaller ones since they generally live longer.
Water is more important than food for spiders. Just like every other animal, spiders need to drink. If they have easy access to a water source, they can go for longer without food.
If food is scarce and they need to feed, spiders aren’t shy about cannibalism. They’ll eat their babies or siblings if it comes down to it.
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Should We Want Spiders Alive Or Dead?
Spiders are weird creatures. Many people are absolutely terrified of them or freeze in fear when they see one. But should you kill that spider in the corner of your room?
Honestly, having a few spiders around your house is a good thing. Spiders eat other insects that we consider pests. Fruit flies, moths, gnats, and even roaches can all be controlled by a few spiders.
They’re even more beneficial if you happen to have a garden. The spiders will kill and eat all the critters that destroy your plants.
On top of that, most spiders aren’t dangerous for you at all. Common house spiders rarely bite, and when they do, the symptoms are basically the same as a mosquito bite.
The best thing to do is do a bit of research about spiders in your area. You don’t want to leave any of the spider species that are actually dangerous inside your house.
The better option is to capture the spider and release it safely outside. You can put a cup over it and slide a piece of paper underneath it to trap it without it touching you.
If you see some little jumping spiders around the house, just leave them alone. They can’t even bite you and would rather run away than try. They mostly eat tiny insects like aphids, and you don’t even have to worry about them spinning webs.
Spider Fun Facts
Jumping spiders can jump around fifty times their body length. This incredible ability lets them cross long distances very quickly and helps them hunt. It also makes it possible to make jumping spider obstacle courses if you have a couple as pets.
Not all spider webs are used to catch prey. A lot of spiders chase down and grab prey when they hunt. Spiders that use webs to catch prey create intricate webs. When prey gets stuck, the struggle vibrates the web, telling the spider that their meal is ready.
Some spiders eat their own webs. Producing silk takes a lot of energy and amino acids. Eating webs is an efficient way to recycle the proteins they use to make webs, helping them produce silk for a new web much easier.
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Why do spiders curl up into a ball when they die?
Spiders don’t have bones inside their body. Their shell is an exoskeleton that holds everything in place. Their legs flex using the pressure of the fluids in their body. When they get squished, it breaks that internal pressure, and their legs naturally curl up.
How many eyes do spiders have?
Most spiders have eight eyes, while some have six. Some even have fewer. They always have an even number of eyes, though. Spiders are also very near-sighted.
Do spiders eat each other?
Spiders will eat each other without an issue. Usually, they don’t eat their babies or siblings, but if times get hard, they won’t hesitate to make a meal out of them. Larger spiders often prey on smaller ones if they don’t catch tastier prey first.
How much do spiders eat every day?
Spiders can eat a couple hundred insects per day. While they can go a long time without food, they will also eat a LOT of small insects, which is why they’re great to have around.
What is spider silk?
All spiders produce some kind of silk. It’s a protein-based fiber they make in a special gland in their body. Spider silk is up to five times stronger than steel. It’s ridiculously thin and stretchy. A strand is made up of hundreds of microscopic strands, increasing its strength.