13 Things That Make Flying Spiders Truly Unique

Stop complaining about gnats, bees and mosquitos. We are here to remind you that no matter how much you hate dealing with them, your interaction with an insect could always be more horrifying.

You might find it hard to cope with the news of flying spiders (we know we did!), but the fact is that more than 100 species of spiders can fly. Yes, in the air. And no, not like birds.

These flying arachnids do not have wings. Let’s learn more about them.

See flying spiders in action in this amazing video!

Fact-Checking: Flying Spiders Are Real

As mentioned earlier, flying spiders don’t exactly fly like birds because they don’t have wings. Any pictures you may have seen of a spider with wings are fake, made to put the fear of flying arachnids in your heart.

Still, they can travel over hundreds of miles in the sky using the long strands of silk that they also use to make their webs. This fine silk is called gossamer, and the method they use to ‘fly’ is called ballooning or kiting.

When ballooning, spiders release a gossamer thread to catch the wind. When at the mercy of air current, it gets charged by earth’s electric fields and becomes airborne, causing the spider to glide in the sky. They can surprisingly steer in the air using their forelegs and rest every few meters on a tree branch or something before going on. They may also attach to another flying insect, such as a moth, to go a little further.

Stuff of nightmares? You have no idea!

13 Things That Make Flying Spiders Truly Unique

Very few humans like anything that has to do with bugs. But some of us do appreciate these unique marvels of nature for what they can achieve despite their size.

Flying spiders have been around forever but are now catching the spotlight. They are still such a mystery that scientists are discovering new things about the many species of flying spiders and the mechanism through which they fly. Here is what we know so far:

1. Flying Spiders Seldom Attack People

Although they have been known to fly onto humans and attack, bites have never been reported. They only attack when threatened or if they see prey. And if they do bite a person, there’s nothing to worry about because…

2. Flying Spiders Are NOT Poisonous

Flying spiders do carry venom, but it isn’t poisonous to humans. So even if they bite a human, it is not deadly and tends to heal quickly compared to the bites of other spider species. So, these arachnids are pretty much harmless to humans except for the fear they inspire in our hearts.

3. Flying Spiders Are Easy To Spot

They are mostly grey or brown in color with differently shaded markings on the abdomen, which is rounder and larger compared to the head. The legs also have brown and light brown bands across them. They can grow as big as 3 inches long, but those instances are rare. Common flying spiders are much smaller. Adult ones weigh less than 3 mg, but the females are twice as large and just as scary.

To top it all off, the males of the species are quite docile. They don’t spin their own web or even hunt if possible. They prefer to live with the females in their webs and steal the prey they bring home.

4. Flying Spiders Sometimes Can’t Balloon Successfully

As mentioned earlier, ballooning is the method by which these spiders fly. But sometimes, when it’s too windy, the gossamer threads get blown away too quickly to catch the flight. Other times, elevated objects can disrupt their flying.

For example, flying spider webs have been reported on ships thousands of miles into the ocean and even on top of flying balloons. This is despite the fact that these flying spiders can control their direction and movements in the air. 

5. They Can Cover Extraordinary Distances

An outstanding fact about these airborne arachnids is that they can fly massive distances riding on the electric field of the earth. They keep moving as long as they can continue to secrete the gossamer sild that interacts with electrostatic waves around us. It can take them as high as 16,000 feet above sea level.

If this doesn’t raise an irrational fear in you, also consider the fact that these flying spiders do not limit themselves to a habitat. So, they can rest in and near human populations, around high-rise buildings, sea-faring ships and residential areas.

6. Trichobothria Helps Them Move

Their body is covered with tiny hair and spines. Their function is to defend the spidey by making it a thorny little snack in case it gets captured. They also play an essential role in how the spidey captures prey and senses its environment and other things.

However, some special hair called the Trichobothria only move when it is in an electric field. Research shows that these help the spider feel the electrical charges in the air and detect the many currents and vibrations.

7. Flying Spiders Live For A Little Over A Year

The average lifespan of a flying spider is one and a half years. And females of the species can produce up to 15 egg sacs during this time. These bag-like things can contain thousands of eggs, and the spider can lay them almost anywhere; the habitat doesn’t matter to them. Interestingly, the female flying spider dies as soon as it lays the last egg sac.  

8. Flying Spiders Are Animated Creatures

Another fascinating fact about these arachnids is that they are the most active of all spider species. They are vibrant and lively. And they never stay in one place for too long. Even when they are in a habitat that offers them shelter and good food, they move on in a matter of days and never limit themselves to one area. Moreover, flying spiders have been known to adapt and modify their lifestyle as and when necessary.

9. Females Sometimes Devourthe Male

Yes. Female flying spiders have been known to eat their male partners. This usually happens when the female is hungry and hasn’t found prey in a while. The male starts looking like a literal snack and goes down like one. It also doesn’t help that the female is much larger in size than that poor guy.

Need more nightmare fuel?

Research proves that females can also eat their male partners before, during and after copulation. There are various hypotheses about why this happens. We just can’t get over the fact that it happens.

10. They Are Explorers At Heart

Flying spiders seem keen to explore their surroundings every time they land at a new place. As we have already established, these spiders are not lazy at all. They like to stay on the move – forest, trees, lake shores, human populations, they can be anywhere. They also don’t like to compete for food or shelter. So they start to get ready for ballooning as soon as another flying spider shows up in their area. Scientists are convinced that they also move to get exposure to sunlight.

11. Males Can Change Their Sex Via Protandry

Even though females can kill and eat males, there are still way too males in the flying spider community. So, the males in a population can trigger Protandry to turn into females to maintain equilibrium.

Simply put, Protandry is a condition that allows an organism to convert into a female even though it has started life as a male. The trigger happens when they have a hard time finding a mate since they are primarily monogamous.

12. They Can Make Parachutes of Web

The gossamer silk they secrete is sometimes weaved into a primitive parachute of sorts to help them glide smoothly. Flying spiders also often use these parachutes to steer them midflight and land on trees that offer better protection.

13. Found In The North

Flying spiders originate in northern continents that offer plenty of sunshine, high temperatures, and a strong uplifting breeze. These conditions are perfect for flying spiders.

Many parts of Asia, North America, Africa, Europe, Australia and South America are perfect habitats for them. Some flying spiders have also been found in tropical habitats, such as the Peruvian rainforest and the jungles of Panama. The wolf spider thrives in these atmospheric conditions, thoroughly reveling in the low humidity and high temperatures. This is also why most spiders get ballooning during the day when these conditions are present.

Check out BBC’s take on flying spiders!

In Conclusion

Many theories try to explain what drives flying spiders to be so active and nomadic. The most popular concept is that they adapted to flying or gliding after being threatened in their original habitat. So, this is how they started migrating to another region. And then they never stopped.

But that’s just speculation at this point. Research is still ongoing to understand the real cause of this phenomenon.

And until we figure out what’s what, rest assured that you have nothing to worry about. If you see a flying spider, keep your cool. It will go away all by itself in a few days.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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