Spiders are one of the most fascinating predatory species that can be commonly observed in everyday life, and have evolved very specialized ways of hunting for their prey. However what many people don’t know is that there are actually many different ways which spiders use to hunt, which aren’t always limited to the use of a web.
Spiders tend to be put into one of two categories dependent on the way that they hunt, although there are also those which use a mixture of both methods. The two categories used are either hunting spiders, which actively look for their prey, or web spinning spiders, who tend to lie in wait for their prey to come to them. Although the web sinning spiders are thought by many to be the most common type, they are in fact probably equal in terms of numbers, Web spinning spiders only appear to be more plentiful due to the fact that they are more visible.
Hunting spiders are categorized by the fact that they actively seek out their prey rather than building a web, and are generally more robust than web spinning spiders. Hunting spiders do not lack the ability to produce silk, however they more commonly use it to line their burrows rather than for use with catching prey. Wolf or zebra spiders are good examples of hunting spiders, both of which are common in most parts of the world.
Most hunting spiders hunt by simply rushing their prey and inflicting a poisonous and usually fatal bite. If the prey is large, then the spider may retreat and give the venom time to weaken it before they attack it further, decreasing the risk of them being injured trying to subdue it. If the prey is small enough, then a spider will often simply hold on to it until it is killed, and very often eats it then and there.
Web spinning spiders are what most people tend to think of when spiders are mentioned, although this is by no means the only method that spiders use for hunting. There are two distinct types of webs that different species of spider make, the first is the typical orb shaped web. These can be identified by the fact that the strands are spread fairly far apart, and they are also sticky, trapping things that land on them.they are most commonly seen in gardens, and need two surfaces as starting points.
The second type of web that many other spiders produce is more of a finely woven sheet, which although isn’t sticky, has loose strands, making the feet of the prey fall through. Because these kinds of webs are easier to escape from for larger prey, most often the spider is alerted to the presence of prey through the vibrations of the web being moved. The spider can then rush out and attack the prey before it escapes. This behavior is also exhibited in sticky web producing spiders, although they will also sometimes simply leave prey to die to starvation or exhaustion at times.
As well as the conventional means of catching their prey, many spiders specialize further, and have a hunting method unique only to their particular sub species. The bolas spider is a good example of this, which uses a blob of sticky web material on the end of a single thread to catch its prey. When suitable prey comes close enough, the spider swings the bolas at it, sticking it together and allowing the spider ample time to bite and subdue it. Because of its odd method of hunting, this spider is also often called the fisherman spider, or angler spider.
There are also some kinds of unusual spiders that act as parasites on the webs of larger spiders, stealing the smaller kills that the larger spider might not notice, or might not be concerned with. Other species are light enough to skate on the surface f a pond or lake, eating insects that fall into the water and send vibrations through the water to it. They can often be seen sitting on Lilly pads with their two front legs touching the water surface to detect these tiny movements.
One of the more famous spiders that have a unique hunting method is the trapdoor spiders that can be found in many warmer parts of the world. These spiders construct a burrow with a trapdoor surface and silken tripwires running from the entrance in several directions. When something trips over one of the strands, the spider quickly emerges from the camouflaged trapdoor and attacks the prey before retreating back inside again.