Have you ever wondered if spiders travel together in groups or packs? It’s an interesting question! Spiders are often thought of as lone hunters, spinning solitary webs and waiting patiently for prey. But some species actually do exhibit social behaviours and hunt together. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of social spiders and see which ones move in packs!
Do Spiders Travel in Packs?
When you think about packs of animals, things like wolves and lions come to mind. But what about spiders? Most species of spiders, indeed, like to keep to themselves. But incredibly, some spiders do travel and hunt in organized groups!
Social spiders working in coordinated groups are known as “spider colonies.” This behaviour is rare in the spider world as most species are solitary. Only around 20 of the approximately 47,000 spider species today live in colonies. Some examples of colonial spider species include:
- Anelosimus eximius (a type of tangle web spider)
- Stegodyphus dumicola (a spider that lives in trees in Africa)
- Oecobius navus (a flat spider found in warm climates)
These colony spiders work together in incredible ways. Individuals build one enormous communal web instead of having their own small one. Packs of spiders will also fan out and hunt together, taking down prey much larger than themselves. Members play different roles, such as capturing food, caring for eggs, and repairing the shared web.
So, while most spiders like to stick to themselves, some fascinating species have evolved social behaviours and teamwork skills. For these spiders, the benefits of group living outweigh the costs. Hunting and travelling in coordinated packs allows them to build huge webs and take down large prey.
Spiders That Hunt in Packs
Of the many thousands of spider species, which exhibit the most coordinated pack-hunting behaviours? Here are some of the most social spider colonies known:
This species of tangled web spider lives in massive colonies across the tropics of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. Their webs can stretch over several metres and contain thousands of individuals. There is no hierarchy; they work together to capture prey, sharing the spoils across the colony.
These spiders live together in groups of a few hundred individuals across southern Africa. Together, they build one massive silk retreat the size of a football in the trees and work together to snare flying insects out of the air. Only one or two pack members need to secure prey for the entire group to feed.
This flat spider lives in warm climates around the world. Groups of a few dozen build silken retreats in trees and eaves, where they rest together during the day. At night, they emerge as a pack to hunt for small insects. Interestingly, these spiders seem to “decide” together when it’s time to venture out.
Unique amongst most spiders, this species lives in packs of up to 300 individuals in ant nests in Africa and Australia. They disguise themselves with ant scents and prey on their ant hosts together, almost like a wolf pack.
This tiny species lives in enormous colonies of thousands in Mexico and the southern US. Together, they build huge webs that can cover whole shrubs and work in unison to trap insects. Scientists think their social behaviour evolved to protect themselves against spider-hunting wasps.
This social orb weaver lives in colonies of up to a few hundred individuals in rainforests worldwide. Their gigantic webs can stretch over rivers and streams. Their packs will team up to ritually vibrate their webs in unison to mimic prey struggling to lure in even more victims.
So, while most spiders are solitary creatures, these unique species have evolved incredible cooperative hunting strategies. Living and working in packs allows them to build enormous webs and subdue prey many times larger than themselves – pretty incredible!
Some spider species have moved far beyond the “loner” perception we often have of these eight-legged predators. For these social spider colonies, there is strength in numbers. Travelling together allows them to create huge webs and take down sizeable prey. Teamwork makes the dream work, even in the spider world!