Life Cycle of Spiders, Habitat, and Diet
There are around 40,000 species of spider across the world each with their own features and traits. Despite their individual qualities, the life cycle of spiders is the same across all species.
The Life Cycle of Spiders
The life cycle of spiders is comprised of the following three stages:
Female spiders lay eggs in a protective case called an egg sac. Each sac can contain a few eggs to 100 eggs depending upon the species.
The sac acts as a protective shield against predators that like to feast on spider eggs. Some species attach the egg sacs in secure and sheltered places like crevices. While some prefer to carry egg sacs on their backs in order to protect them.
In favorable conditions like in spring and summer, spider eggs hatch out from their sacs within just a few weeks.
Egg sacs can “overwinter” which is the ability to stay dormant during winter and hatch when the summer arrives.
Baby spiders that hatch from eggs are called spiderlings. They have eight legs, head, and body. Usually, they are grey, black or brown in color, but unlike adult spiders, they don’t have distinct yellow or light colored bands or marks on their body.
Spiders are solitary creatures that love to live on their own. So, spiderlings aren’t dependent on their mothers, and as soon as they hatch, they start their independent lives and leave behind their siblings and mothers. Spiderlings go through several molts to reach adulthood.
Spiderlings will not leave the egg sac until after the completion of their first molt.
During molting, spiderlings shed their hard exoskeleton as they grow bigger. The smaller exoskeleton is replaced by a new bigger exoskeleton which is lying underneath. This new exoskeleton is relatively soft but will harden after some time. Spiderlings take 5 – 10 molts to reach adulthood completely.
In the life cycle of spiders, adulthood is the sexually mature stage of spiders in which they are ready to mate, breed, and start a new life cycle. Male spiders in some species achieve sexual maturity as soon as they leave their sac. Female spiders take longer to reach complete maturity due to their larger size compared to males.
The Lifespan of Spiders
Female spiders generally have longer lifespans than male spiders, and they usually live from 1 – 2 years depending upon their species. Most male spiders typically die after mating.
Tarantulas have the longest lifespan, and some female tarantulas are known to live for more than 20 years. Another unique trait of these spiders is that females keep on molting even after reaching the adult stage. If they molt after mating, they lose all of the stored sperm and have to mate again to breed.
Almost all spider species are predators, and their food consists of insects and bugs. A few large spider species are known for eating small animals like frogs, lizards, birds, and rodents. Some spiders are even cannibalistic and feed on small spiders.
Usually, the typical house spiders we spot in our home are the ones whose primary food sources are insects. They spin their webs to trap insects like flies, moths, and mosquitoes. Spiders are helping in controlling the pest population in our homes.
Every year spiders eat billions of tons of insects; without them, the earth would be heavily infested with bugs.
Spiders are opportunist eaters. Unlike humans, they don’t need three meals a day. They eat depending upon the availability of food. If there is an abundance of insects available, they will eat frequently. However, if food is scarce, they will wait patiently and can survive for a few weeks without eating.
Spiders lack sharp teeth, instead, they have small appendages in their mouth which they use to hold their prey. They inject venom into their prey by biting it, and the toxic venom liquefies the insides of the insects. The spider then gulps the meal like an energy drink leaving behind only empty exoskeletons of insects they have devoured.
They are quiet and patient predators and can wait for a long time for prey to get trapped in their web. If not enough insects get caught in their web, they’ll leave to find a new suitable place to spin another web.
Spiders are one of the most diversified creatures that exist on the planet earth. You can find them almost anywhere, and they have an amazing ability to adapt to their surrounding environment. Even though spider habitats vary with the species, generally the web-spinning spiders are found in indoor settings like in homes and buildings.
While hunting spiders live in outdoor settings and actively seek out their prey in open areas. Some species prefer gardens and bushes to live in and build their webs between shrubs, trees, and plants.
Spiders can survive the harshest outside conditions. They can live in drier surroundings without water for several weeks. Most spiders are terrestrial, but a few rare species are also found deep in the water where they feed on fish. So, wherever you go, whether high up on the mountains, in dark forests or deep waters, you will somehow find these versatile creatures.***
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