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Webless Spiders: How They Trap Their Prey without Webs

Angela, an animal lover, has a passion for learning and understanding God's creatures. As a born teacher, she enjoys sharing her knowledge.

Close-Up: A Spider's Eight Eyes

There are over 30,000 kinds of spiders in the world today. Don't let these creepy-crawly things fool you: they are not part of the insect family. They have different habits and body structures. For one, spiders have eight legs, eight eyes, fangs, and no antennae or wings, whereas most insects have six legs, two eyes, and no fangs, some have antennas, and some have wings.

Also, spiders are all carnivores, which is not true of all insects. The first thing that most people think of when they think of spiders is "Ewww." The second thing is spider webs, which is how many spiders trap their prey. Surprisingly, the majority of spiders do not build webs. They use means like hiding behind "trapdoors," jumping on their prey, ambushing them, and even spitting a glue-like substance to immobilize their victims.

Jumping Spiders

There are roughly 5,000 different species of jumping spiders, making it the largest subgroup of spiders. They are known for their extremely keen vision, which they need when traveling and attacking prey. They travel by jumping from place to place using a silk tether that assures them that they won't lose their place even if they fall. If they fall, they will climb up the silk thread and get back to where they once were.

They have a unique jumping mechanism. Rather than relying on a muscular system, like cats, kangaroos, and other mammals, they rely on the circulatory system, which works like a hydraulic piston. This lightweight mechanism allows them to jump unusually high, despite their short legs.

When hunting, they rely on both their jumping skills and excellent eyesight. They will pounce on their victim from ten to twenty millimeters away, leaving it completely immobile. In about 1/700th of a second, a strike occurs so quickly that the spider's prey won't be aware that anything has approached. Although all spiders are carnivorous, a few in the jumping spider family also eat pollen and nectar, but even these eat meat for the most part. Unlike other spiders, these usually have only six eyes instead of the traditional eight.

Spitting Spiders

Although jumping spiders are known for their speed, some rely on their ability to spit. A spitting spider or scytodid usually has a big head containing enlarged venom glands. Their head measures a little less than a quarter of the total size of the spider.

The spider's spit consists of a gummy substance that is venomous. When spraying their victim, they often will move in a zigzag fashion, which will cause the venom to cover the entire surface of their prey. Because the substance is very sticky, it immobilizes their prey, giving the hunter time to approach and eat their victim. This gummy substance is so effective that it allows the spider to capture prey larger than itself.

Trapdoor Spiders

While many spiders use webs as traps, some spiders use trapdoors. They will burrow into the ground and set up a trapdoor right outside their hideout. They make this trapdoor out of the soil, vegetation, and silk, similar to the silk used in a spider web.

Not all trapdoor spiders burrow in the ground; some will construct a silk tube with a trapdoor in a bark crevice. Regardless, the trapdoors are camouflaged very well and hard to see. The hinge is usually made of spider silk. As a trapdoor spider awaits its prey, it will use its claws to hold the door shut. Once it feels the vibrations of an insect, it will release the trapdoor, jump out, and capture its prey.

Trapdoor spiders are usually giant, hairy, and harmless to humans. They also use their trapdoor to hatch their young. The baby spiders will live in the burrow for two or three weeks before they leave to live on their own, where they will burrow and make trapdoors of their own.


One of the most feared spiders is the tarantula. Tarantulas are known for their size and hairiness. Although there are so many subspecies and the sizes range greatly, most tarantulas' bodies fall within 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10 centimeters), not including their legs. The males are generally smaller. There are nearly 900 species of tarantulas.

These spiders use the ambush method to capture their prey and do not build webs. Most tarantulas will stick to insects as their primary food source, but bigger tarantulas, like the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider, will kill and eat mice, birds, and even lizards.

Despite their bad rap, tarantulas are not as harmful as they may appear. Although many fear the tarantula's venom, their venom is not strong enough to kill a person, though it may cause extreme pain. Very few people suffer an allergic reaction. Tarantulas generally will not bite unless cornered; they prefer to run rather than bite.

Despite what people might assume, the majority of spiders do not make webs. Instead, most produce a silk-like material of some kind to help them trap their prey.

Questions & Answers

Question: Do trap door spiders spit from their burrow?

Answer: Yes, they often will spit from their burrow with their hind legs. The spit is actually a glue like substance they create from their saliva that immobilizes their prey and they form into a ball.

Question: What kind of spiders use a glue-like substance?

Answer: Any spider that can create a web uses a glue-like substance to build its web, such as the common house spider. Spitting spiders also use glue-like substances to trap their prey.

© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz


GOOD FOR MY STUDIES on August 19, 2019:

Its kind of scary to see spiders up close but ok

You are awesome and beutiful on February 19, 2019:

Ok awsome job there

NiceSo beutiful

Unknown on November 14, 2018:

This is a great website

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 20, 2018:

Haha! My daughter is terrified of the little creatures! I love them and find them fascinating!

Annie on March 20, 2018:

The spiders are really big

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on February 16, 2017:

I'm so glad that you were able to find the information that you needed. It is surprising to know that MOST spiders do not use webs!

Jose Landa on February 16, 2017:

Thank for helping me find info. on spiders it really helped me with my hypothesis that spiders do have other ways of catching prey other than using their webs

michael on August 03, 2012:

spiders are aswsome

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on July 08, 2012:

LOL, i think you are like the majority of the population!

ricky on July 07, 2012:

to be honest, I only like daddylong legs.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 20, 2012:

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love your avatar!!!

Shaddie from Washington state on March 19, 2012:

I like the section about the tarantulas :) Spiders are so fascinating!

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 04, 2012:

What kind

melody on March 02, 2012:

i have a pet spider

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on September 26, 2010:

Oh wow, thanks so much!

kgnature from North Carolina on September 26, 2010:

Thanks, Angela Michelle. I'll link to this from my spider hub.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on September 24, 2010:

I love spiders, and I am a big save the spider person. I'd rather pick it up with a piece of paper and bring it away from the house, than kill it. I'm weird that way. :)

kaylee on September 24, 2010:

that i saw one on my door it was big and my sister pick it up with a piece of paper

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 23, 2010:

Thanks Garnetbird! Wow, I can't believe you took care of such a beautiful creature. Now I want one, but it looks like I would have to do some studying before I took a pet like that home. I've also wanted a snake, but my mom has informed me if I ever do that she will never come to visit again.

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on May 22, 2010:

Lovely Hub-loved the trap door spider picture. Have you read my Hub on my demised Tarantula? I had her for 18 yrs.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 22, 2010:

silver poet,

Actually, I didn't know that either. In fact,I thought all spiders made webs. When I came across a chldren's book that showed all different kinds, I became intrigued, and thought I would write a hub about it.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 22, 2010:

Thank you very much.

I have seen many different kinds myself. There was this one, that crawled into my ear when I was 8 or 9. I will always remember what it looked like. I was so incredibly creeped out by it, but ever since then I've wondered what kind it was. I now wonder if it was a trapdoor spider since it tried crawling in my ear.

I think I had heard that spiders are good luck.

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on May 22, 2010:

I remember being taught at an early age that spiders meant good luck. It was so great how the elders taught us to respect all that we share the earth with - because we all wanted good luck.

What an interesting hub! I loved all the photos - and when I travel to different parts of the world I see different spiders which are absolutely fascinating not to mention beautiful. We'd just stand and stare.

You've truly done such a great job here sharing the beauty and value of spiders. Rated up of course and awesome! Wow!

Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on May 22, 2010:

Thank you for writing this informative hub. I thought spitting spiders were a rural myth, and never thought to research and see if there really were such a thing.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 21, 2010:

My mom is deathly afraid of them too! I think they are fascinating, and cool.

This is one of those quirks about me, but I can't kill a spider. I can't kill a bug period. I feel tremendous guilt even thinking about killing it. I usually find a piece of paper, pick it up, and toss it outside.

Pollyannalana from US on May 21, 2010:

I don't fear spiders but I do kill all I see unless they have a beautiful web, somehow the beauty of that saves her life. Snakes are my biggest fear!

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 21, 2010:

Pamela, I actually find spiders very interesting, but I'd rather encounter a snake than a spider. LOL. Even if you don't like spiders though, you have to admit they are very intricately designed.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 21, 2010:

Angela, This is an interesting hub but I still prefer not to meet any spider in person. I am glad they eat mosquitoes however. Good hub.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on May 21, 2010:

I wish I could say they will, but no matter how many spiders there are, they never are hungry enough to eat ALL of them!

Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on May 21, 2010:

As long as they eat all my pet moquitoes they're fine with me,great Hub Angela..!!