Wildlife Informer is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Do Spiders Communicate With Each Other?

Love them or hate them, it’s a fact that we are surrounded by spiders all the time. They’re everywhere, and we often find remnants of their presence with webs left behind. Spiders are fascinating creatures and also a bit of a mystery.

Spiders communicate with each other in different complex and sophisticated ways. They use different methods to attract mates, establish territory, and drive away other spiders. This article explores how spiders communicate with each other using pheromones, vibrations, and body language with touch.

Key Takeaways

  • Like many animals and insects, spiders communicate through chemicals called pheromones. Pheromones can be used to attract a mate or establish dominance over a female and her web.
  • Seismic communication uses vibrational frequencies to communicate. Since spiders are so sensitive to vibration, they communicate by vibrating web silk at different frequencies.
  • Some spider species use body language and touch to communicate. They perform sophisticated dances and mating rituals. Body language can also convey aggression.

How Do Spiders Communicate With Each Other?

Spider on a cobweb
Spider on a cobweb

The ways that spiders communicate with each other are complex. They use chemical communication through pheromones, vibrations through seismic communication, and body language and touch to communicate with each other.

Pheromones

Spider on a plant
Spider on a plant

Like many creatures, spiders communicate with each other using pheromones. In spiders, pheromone communication is primarily used to find a suitable mate. Mating communication in spiders can be a lot more complex than you might imagine.

Pheromones can tell another spider everything they need to know about their source. Male spiders can detect the age, health, and reproductive and feeding status (if they fed recently) of a potential mate. Good information for those trying to avoid being eaten by a mate.

Studies show that female spiders avoid areas where there are other females. This reduces competition for food and males. Some male spiders produce webbing, cover it in pheromones, and carry it in search of a female.

The concentration of pheromones helps him attract a mate by advertising his availability. Competing male spiders are also driven away by other male pheromones. Younger males avoid webs that have older male pheromones.

Female spiders will also secrete pheromones onto the silk as they build their web. These chemical hormone compounds can become airborne to attract a mate. Pheromones can travel distances if caught just right.

Pieces of the web that fly away in the wind also attract potential mates to locate the source. Pheromone communication in spiders is the main way that spiders locate a mate. Like other insects and animals, pheromones play a major role in spider communications.

Seismic Communication

black widow on the ground
Black widow on the ground

We all know how spider webs are used to catch prey. Trapped prey causes a commotion on the web, which triggers the spider to react and either go feed or wrap it up to eat later. Spiders communicate with other spiders using the same kind of vibrations in the web produced by trapped prey.

In fact, they are incredibly sensitive to web vibrations. This is known as seismic communication. It’s a form of communication using sound and vibrational frequencies to convey a message.

You may also like:  Do Groundhogs Abandon Their Burrows?

Spiders don’t use sound to communicate in the typical way you might think. They don’t have ears and can’t vocalize, but they still communicate using sound vibrations nonetheless. Spiders use different frequencies of web vibrations to communicate.

Imagine the web as a series of guitar strings, so tiny human ears can’t hear it. To avoid becoming a meal, male black widow spiders have to signal to a female through her web that they are not prey. They use a specific web frequency to communicate with her.

By using her web strands to identify himself, a male black widow avoids triggering the female’s predatory response. It’s like giving her the heads up, “Hey, it’s just me. Your mate.”

In fact, some female spiders will tighten or move silk web strands to change the frequency. It’s like tightening guitar strings for tuning. In some species, males and females cohabitate on the same web.

Examples

A female American house spider will communicate to her partner that she’s ready to mate by plucking web strings. Plucking or creating a vibration on the web is a way for females to signal to waiting males that they are now welcome. Other spiders will use their body parts as instruments to produce vibrations.

The wolf spider is also capable of purring to attract a mate. Male tarantulas seek out their mate by following pheromone trails to a den. Once he finds a female, the male taps at the entrance to gain entry.

Female tarantulas feel the tap vibrations. Spiders are extraordinarily sensitive to vibrations in their web, so it’s no surprise they also use these to communicate with each other.

Body Language And Touch

Bold jumping spider on blurred background
Bold jumping spider on blurred background

Body language and touch are not often associated with spider communication. You wouldn’t imagine a spider being intelligent enough to communicate through body language or touch. Jumping spiders use body language to communicate for mating.

They perform sophisticated courtship dances to attract a mate. Male jumping spiders have been observed sliding and zig-zagging around in a complex display of a mating ritual. They even wave their arms around to get a female’s attention.

Tarantulas also have mating rituals. Males will seduce females with a series of shaking movements while he raises up his abdomen and dips his front. Male orb spiders use touch to seduce a mate.

A male orb spider will give his female mate a back massage to initiate mating and, hopefully, not get eaten in the process. Body language can also show aggression. Competing male jumping spiders will fight each other but not before aggressive posturing to try to drive away the opponent.

Research is ongoing to learn more about spider body language and communication through touch. It’s a mysterious and complex way for them to communicate.

Conclusion

In conclusion, spiders communicate with each other for mating and territory. They use their web to create vibration frequencies that web owners can identify. They also communicate with through the seismic vibrations on a web, body language and touch, and like other animals, pheromones.