Yes, I do know why spiders curl up when they die

We’ve had several frosty mornings and even a brief snow flurry, so spiders have been dying off all over the place. I watched this video because I thought it would be more morbid, but it’s actually pretty cheery, with lots of short clips of beautiful spiders. It’s also very basic, but hey, I need to see more spiders!

One quibble: the narrator disses grass spider webs, saying they’re “not fancy”. I sense a bias favoring orb webs! Grass spiders build these slick platforms for prey to land on, with the sheet funneling back to an elegant cozy tunnel where they lurk. They’re very nice.

I could also make a case for cobwebs, which look chaotic but are actually 3-dimensional structures, unlike those planar 2-D orb webs.


  1. PaulBC says

    I thought everyone agreed that the tunnel webs were cool and scary. “Fancy?” Well, i guess that’s a matter of definition.

    I could also make a case for cobwebs, which look chaotic but are actually 3-dimensional structures, unlike those planar 2-D orb webs.

    True. I need to appreciate them more.

  2. unclefrogy says

    the thing about all of the less then “fancy” spider webs just cob webs or “flat mats” is it is very hard to see the whole structure because some of the important parts are almost invisible unless lighted just so. Our eyes and our perception is just not tuned for that level of detail the spiders clearly are and they scamper around on stuff we can not even see without any hesitation of looking for a foot hold. even the jumping spiders are as busy as any rock climber on El Capitan installing pitons and jam nuts for their ropes which I sure can’t see.

  3. PaulBC says

    unclefrogy@2 I just recently removed some (unoccupied) cob webs that were very visible in morning sunlight, but that I forgot about the rest of the day. If you think of them as a lattice allowing the spider access to an entire volume of space, they really are remarkable. I wonder if you could build a human architecture along this lines. Maybe in zero-G or low-G anyway.

  4. PaulBC says

    I haven’t watched the video, but if I were making a mechanical spider, it would be reasonable to have the limbs retract elastically (or with springs) into curled up position and require effort to extend them out again. I looked it up, and the real answer seems to be that they are held out by hydrostatic pressure, which is a little different. But OK, the default is curled up. That seems reasonable.

  5. unclefrogy says

    I have often wondered what kind of interior design would result if you were less dominated by always having to be so tied to the floor.

  6. unclefrogy says

    I first became aware of the shape of the webs from discovering the inverted bowl shape of the webs made by the long legged spiders Pholcidae. Wikipedia art. calls the web a messy tangle that is in correct. The “tangle” is the scaffolding and anchoring that hold the structure in place which has to conform to the randomness of the points a attachment available. the base structure is the inverted bowl with catch lines placed within which it very regular.
    Black widows also have a base structure that is similar to the funnel web spider but since it moves like pholcidea by hanging “upside down” it is not a “floor’ it spreads out from the hole it starts from above the catching threads that are mostly anchored to the ground below it.
    none of it is particularly random and with out purpose and deliberate structure.

  7. WhiteHatLurker says

    This video was recommended to me today as well.

    I was surprised by the herbivorous spider. And why their legs curl up when they die.