Biocurious is a weblog about biology, quantified.

Baby spider nests

by PhilipJ on 6 June 2009

I’m back in Newfoundland for a vacation, and while mowing the lawn came across a bunch of baby spiders in a nest, that looked something like this:

baby spiders
(hat tip to Boby Dimitrov on Flickr)

It was quite a windy day, but when I crouched down to look at them, even the slightest breeze from my own breath caused them to disperse out from their tight bunch, much like these spiders are doing:

baby spiders dispersing
(hat tip to gardnergrout, on Flickr)

Being biocurious, I have been wondering, what’s the difference between a breeze and my own breath that the baby spiders ignore the former and run at the feel of the latter?

  1. bill    3331 days ago    #

    Carbon dioxide, signaling a vertebrate predator?

  2. Dunbar    3330 days ago    #

    Maybe it’s heat or infrared radiation from your breath.

  3. Duncan Hull    3329 days ago    #


  4. PhilipJ    3329 days ago    #

    @Duncan I hope not. :)

    The equivalent question exists for a physical perturbation. They’ll stay clumped together against transient wind, but any physical touch disperses them immediately.

  5. Chris Gahan    3205 days ago    #

    I noticed a similar behaviour this summer with all the wasps that would constantly be trying to eat my sweet-sweet food.

    If I swatted at them, they’d just go into their “evasive maneuvers” mode, but still try to get at my food.

    If I held my breath for a bit, then gave ‘em a nice long exhale, they’d freak out and run away, and not come back for like 20 minutes. :D

    Being a mammal has unrealized benefits!

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