How Do Spiders Reproduce?

There are around 50,000 different kinds of spiders found all over the world, making them one of the most abundant arthropods. The question is, how do these arachnids grow in number? If you’re interested in learning more about spider reproduction, keep reading!

Spider Basics

Spiders are often feared, but they’re quite fascinating creatures with intriguing features and attributes.

How do Spiders reproduce

let’s revise the basics:

  • To begin with, one of the most interesting things about these arachnids is their reproductive process. Spiders reproduce through a process called external fertilization. This means that the male and female reproductive organs are located outside of the body.
  • All phases of a spider’s life are terrestrial- they live on land.
  • Unlike most other arthropods, spiders have eight legs instead of 6. This sets them apart and makes them unique.
  • Spiders possess two body segments- the cephalothorax and the abdomen. The cephalothorax is where their head and legs are located, while their abdomen contains vital organs like their heart, stomach, and reproductive organs.
  • Another unique feature of these arthropods includes the possession of rows of abdominal bristles that they use to produce silk. This silk is used for a variety of purposes, such as wrapping up prey or building webs.
  • Spiders are predatory arachnids that feed by sucking the internal fluids of other arthropods. in fact; they use their chelicerae to inject venom into their prey. The venom liquefies the tissues of the prey, which the spider then sucks up. The spiders suck up the resulting soup, which is high in protein and low in carbs. Interestingly, Bagheera kiplingi is the only herbivorous spider species known to us. It primarily feeds on nectar and pollen from flowers, which it collects using its long front legs.

Spiders mating pattern

A close up of the two spiders, doe and male. Flirtation.

Do spiders mate for life?

Many people believe that spiders mate for life, but this is not always the case. Some spiders do mate for life, while others will switch partners if they are no longer satisfied with their current one.

In certain specific species of spiders, the process of changing mating partners can be very dangerous for the female spider, as she may become injured or even killed by her male counterpart.

While in other species, after the sperm is deposited, during mating rituals, the male’s role in reproduction is finished, and he generally dies soon after.

In fact, in the interesting case of widow spiders, which includes the black widow and the redback species, mating is a very deadly process for male widow spiders.

In these species, huge females often consume smaller males during copulation, thus the “widow” in their names. In rare instances, the female captures the male as he attempts to flee.

However, the male spiders that survive after mating generally choose the same female or another spider from the next season to mate with. This ensures that the male’s genes are passed down, allowing for the survival of his species.

Can different species of spiders still mate?

Though spiders come from a variety of species, they are still able to mate.

In fact, according to certain research, different species of spiders can mate and produce viable offspring. In some cases, the mating of different species can result in a new, hybrid species.

However, it is essential to note that mating does not happen between every species. It is more common for different spiders to mate if they share some similarities in characteristics and if they are from the same area.

When do spiders mate and produce offspring?

Different spider species reproduce by different methods. Some spiders mate while others produce offspring without mating.

However, mating among spiders typically occurs when the spider senses a female nearby. The male spider will approach the female cautiously, and if she is receptive, they will mate.

During the process, the male spider will transfer his sperm to the female spider’s egg sac. Following fertilization, female spiders generally deposit eggs in a cocoon, and they hatch after 3-4 weeks.

Once the offsprings emerge from the egg sac, they are on their own and must fend for themselves.

Interestingly, in some species of spiders, the male’s body is eaten by the female after mating. This is often due to the fact that the male spider has no further use after mating, and his death provides nutrients for the eggs.

Spiders Life cycle

golden orb weaver web

Spiders undergo three stages of development- egg, spiderling, and adult.

The mating process starts with the male spider depositing his sperm onto the web. The female spider then takes up the sperm and deposits eggs in a safe place. After hatching, the baby spiders grow into adults by molting their skin.

Interestingly, the life cycle of spiders, which produce a large number of eggs, varies depending on the species. Depending on the species, spiders can lay anywhere from a few hundred to 3,000 eggs.

In some spider species, the female dies after laying eggs, while others protect and carry the egg sac in their chelicerae or attach it to their spinnerets.

Spiderlings that emerge from eggs are miniature versions of their adult selves. They are generally pale in color and have small bristles on their body. Initially, they live off the yolk that is stored in their abdomen, but once it is consumed, they will start to hunt for food.

How do Spiders reproduce

spiders copulatory

Reproduction in spiders occurs through the ovipositor. The female spider may either take the egg sac with her or leave it in the safety of her web.

However, if you want to understand the nitty-gritty of the question, “How do spiders reproduce?” then the reproductive process in spiders involves the following phages:

Spider courtship

Spider courtship is the process by which two spiders determine if they are compatible as a sexual partner. The process can involve a variety of behaviors, including web-spinning, dancing, and gift giving.

Moreover, courtship can also be acknowledged as a way for spiders to communicate with each other. This communication, most notably through the production of sounds or stridulations, can involve everything from attracting a mate to warning off rivals.

The process of courtship can be very complex, involving a variety of movements and signals.

In fact, some male spiders have been known to perform a dance to attract the female’s attention. Additionally, the males sometimes give a gift to the female before copulating. This is known as courtship and can involve something as simple as a food offering or web spinning.

Eventually, if courtship results in the spiders deciding that they are compatible, they will mate and produce offspring.

Reproduction of spiders

Spiders reproduce sexually by mating. The method of reproduction is seen to vary among different species. However, generally, two common procedures are observed.

In some species, the male spider deposits sperm onto the web, and the female spider then consumes it. This is why you often see spiders with large webs – they are making them in preparation for reproduction.

While in others, spiders reproduce through intercourse, and the females usually make sounds or stridulations to let the males know that they are ready.

The male will then inject his sperm into the female’s genital opening, and she will store it in her spermatheca until she is ready to lay eggs.

Furthermore, the rare phenomenon of sexual cannibalism where the female cannibalizes the male during or after mating is also observed in certain species such as widow spiders.

Egg Sac

Silken threads are rolled into a ball and used by spiders to construct their egg sacs. Spinnerets are located on the underside of the abdomen of the spider and are used to distribute the threads.

When first produced, the threads have a liquid state, but once they are exposed to air, they take on a solid state.

Spiders not only construct egg sacs with these threads, but they also utilize them to construct webs and nests, as well as for movement. Egg sacs have the potential to hold hundreds of eggs each.

After a period of time equaling around two to three weeks, the eggs develop into living spiders. The hatchlings reach adulthood after a period of about one year.

Spiderlings

Spiderlings are the name given to baby spiders. They are born immediately after hatching and begin traveling away from the egg sac. This is an important time for them, as they need to find a safe place to live and grow.

Generally, these offsprings are found climbing to the top of a branch or grass and produce silken threads. These silken threads act as parachutes, and the spiderlings drift away in the wind. In fact, spiderlings disperse by means of the wind.

The threads that the spiders spin are very thin and light, so when the wind catches them, it carries the hatchling spiders over long distances. They will colonize habitats far from their birthplace, which is an amazing feat for an organism that’s only a few millimeters in size.

Spiders lifespan

Most spiders have a lifespan of around two years. However, some species, when kept in captivity, have been known to live up to 20 years. This is due to the fact that they are not exposed to the same dangers and risks as they would be in the wild.

Furthermore, female spiders tend to live longer than male spiders. This is likely due to the extra energy and effort that goes into producing eggs, in addition to the fact that female spiders have a tendency to eat their male counterparts after mating.

However, some species of male spiders die from the mating process alone.

Why do female spiders eat their mate?

The mystery of why female spiders eat their mate during copulation has long been a topic of research. Even though it is now known that the male is eaten and the sperm is still deposited, researchers are still not sure why this happens.

Some theories suggest that it could be a way for the females to gain some of the males’ nutrients and energy in order to help them survive. Furthermore, it can also be a way for the female to avoid being eaten by the male after mating.

Can redback spiders mate without males?

Redback spiders are one of the few species of spiders that can reproduce without males! Females will produce eggs, which will hatch into spiderlings. These spiderlings will be able to mate and produce offspring themselves.

However, if you are wondering how this comes about, well, the male redback spider generally inseminates an immature female. The sperm is stored in a special organ called the spermatheca.

When it matures, the spider fertilizes the eggs, sometimes without needing a male.

Do female jumping spiders eat their male counterparts?

Female jumping spiders do, in fact, consume their male counterparts. However, whereas several other female spiders from a variety of genera enjoy feeding on the male after mating, this is not the case for all species.

There are particular species in which cannibalism is not seen.

Interestingly, there is a case of the other way around, as well. 

The blood-drinking jumping spiders of East Africa include males that consume females more often than the other way around. This is due to a presumed adaptation that allows them to take in more nutrients as they are not able to eat as much solid food as their female counterparts.

What to do if you come across a spider egg sac?

spiders abdomen photograph

Spider egg sacs are often found in sheltered areas such as under eaves, rocks, and logs. If it is safe to do so, the best course of action is to vacuum up an egg sac and dispose of it outdoors.

However, be very cautious when disturbing it, do not try to remove it by hand as this could cause the eggs to hatch and release baby spiders into your home.

On the other hand, if you come across an egg sac that is housing spiders that are not harmful to humans, it is best to simply leave it alone. If the egg sac is hosting dangerous spiders, such as black widows or brown recluses, this could potentially be a dangerous situation.

In these cases, it would be wise to contact a professional arachnologist or pest control company for assistance.

Prevent Spiders from leaving Egg Sacs in your Home

One of the most common ways spiders reproduce is by leaving egg sacs in your home. If you want to prevent this, you can contact a qualified pest control specialist to professionally treat your home.

This will help get rid of any spiders and their eggs, preventing them from reproducing.

However, there are a few things you can do to help prevent spiders from leaving egg sacs in your home.

  • One is to vacuum and dust your home regularly. This will remove spiders and their webs, which can help to reduce the population over time.
  • Additionally, you may install window screens and door sweeps, as well as seal up any gaps or breaches in your house.

Conclusion

I hope that this information was helpful in answering all of the questions you had regarding how spiders reproduce.

FAQs

Can a male jumping spider lay eggs?

Well, NO. Male jumping spiders do not lay eggs. In fact, male members of the spiders’ families are not known to reproduce. However, there are hermaphroditic species in the animal kingdom that contain both male and female reproductive organs and may create both male and female gametes.

Do baby spiders eat their mother?

The baby spider generally does not consume their mother. However, as she nears death, tiny spiders will surround her and begin to consume her alive. This phenomenon, known as matriphagy or mother-eating, is uncommon in nature and rarer in the world of spiders. The majority of spider species disperse and live solitary lifestyles practically soon after hatching.

How many babies can a spider have?

Depending on the species, spiders may lay between 2 and 1000 eggs. Almost all female spiders guard their eggs by constructing a silk “bed” and then wrapping them in a silk “blanket.” The eggs are subsequently wrapped in more silk to form the egg sac.

Do male jumping spiders make nests?

Creatures of tallgrass prairies and open areas, jumping spiders not only perch towards the tops of plants but also build their nests (both males and females build nests known as hibernacula) and lay their egg sacs there. Large numbers allow them to get away with being noticeable.