Where Do Spiders Go In The Winter? – Danielle’s Student Essay

Have you ever wondered where spiders go in the winter? Okay, maybe you haven’t. But, I’m sure at one time or another you’ve noticed a huge change in the number of spiders crawling around your house and the amount of times you swat spider webs during the winter. Let’s begin with a brief background that discovers what spiders actually are and where in the world they go when the temperature drops.

Taxonomy, or the study of classifying organisms, is used to differentiate between living and non-living organisms, invertebrates and vertebrates, as well as mammals, insects, and reptiles. Biologists have discovered that spiders belong to the class Arachnids, and are more mammals than they are insects! Don’t believe me? 

Well, biologists also have ways to group animals according to certain characteristics that allow the biologists to place those organisms in specific groups. Some characteristics that spiders share with other mammals are being multicellular, having hair or fur, caring for their young, and nursing young spiders with milk (Goldman, 2021).

More specifically, the last characteristic was found in the discovered jumping spider species in southeastern Asia called /Toxeus magnus/ that has the ability to “suckle its babies with a nutritious fluid secreted by its own body” (Goldman, 2021). Now that we have learned some things about why spiders are considered to be mammals, the next part of this essay should be no shock to you… well, maybe it still could be.

So, all this to tell you that some spiders hibernate in the winter. There. I said it. Spiders hibernate! Antifreeze compounds, eggs that provide young with warmth, and undergoing the process of cold hardening allows spiders to survive in the winter. Also, places like decayed leaves and cracks in tree bark enable spiders that normally lay their eggs in the fall to endure colder temperatures.

On the other hand, spiders that lay their eggs in the spring, such as wolf spiders, running spiders, and jumping spiders, are “kept” in the juvenile stage and “once the winter ends, they mature, mate, and produce eggs” (Magnus, 2019). Although this is an amazing and remarkably designed characteristic of certain spiders, keeping spiders /inside/ your house in the winter is the best thing you can do to save them. 

Most people toss those tiny mammals into their habitat with good conscious but in reality, “,…exporting a house spider outside is pretty much a death sentence,…” (Magnus, 2019). Oops.

Other techniques that allow some spider species to endure the cold months are decreasing their metabolic rate and utilizing the process of /diapause/, or the act of maintaining a state of hibernation to save energy and stay warm in the winter (Foster, n.d.). The bad news is that these spiders rarely stay outside in the winter. Yep, you guessed it… they are choosing to stay warm with you by occupying dark and isolated places and spinning sacs that keep their young (and themselves) warm (Foster, n.d.).

Overall, I have found that during the winter, some spiders hibernate by hiding in corners, seeking refuge in chimneys and secluded places, and staying indoors.

Author: Danielle Perron-Tennant – Arizona State University-West

Works Cited

  • Foster, S. (n.d.) Do Spiders Hibernate? Let’s Find Out. https://schoolofbugs.com/do-spiders-hibernate/
  • Goldman, J. G. (2021, May 3). Not just mammals: Some spiders nurse their young with milk. Animals. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/spiders-nurse-young-with-milk-lactation-arachnids
  • Magnus, A. (2019, April 18). What Happens To Spiders In The Winter? Wisconsin Public Radio. https://www.wpr.org/what-happens-spiders-winter

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