Webless Spiders: How They Trap Their Prey Without Webs

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. Their habits and body structures are different than insects. For one thing, spiders have eight legs, eight eyes, fangs, and no antennas or wings, whereas most insects have six legs, two eyes, and no fangs, and some have antennas and 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 actually 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.

An ant mimicking a jumping spider
An ant mimicking a jumping spider | Source

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 that they won't lose their place even if they happen to fall. If they fall, they will just climb up the silk thread and get back to where they once were.

They have a unique jumping mechanism. Rather than relying on a great 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 it comes to hunting, they rely on both their jumping skills and their great eyesight. They will pounce on their victim from ten to twenty millimeters away, leaving it completely immobile. A strike occurs so quickly, in about 1/700th of a second, 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 for the most part eat meat. Unlike other spiders, these usually have only six eyes instead of the traditional eight.

Spitting Spiders

A spitting spider
A spitting spider | Source

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 that contains enlarged venom glands. Their head measures a little less than a quarter of the total size of the spider.

Their 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 will then immobilize their prey, giving the hunter time to approach and eat their victim. This gummy substance is so effective that it actually allows the spider to capture prey larger than itself.

Trapdoor Spiders

A trapdoor spider
A trapdoor spider | Source

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 soil, vegetation, and silk, similar to the silk used in a spiderweb.

Not all trapdoor spiders burrow in the ground; some will construct a tube of silk with a trapdoor in a bark crevice. Regardless, the trapdoors are camouflaged very well and are very 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 large, 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 main source of food, 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, generally their venom is not strong enough to kill a person, though it may cause extreme pain. A 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 actually make webs, although all spiders share some characteristics (they have eight legs, are not insects, and are carnivorous) and most produce a silk-like material of some kind to help them trap their prey.

© 2010 Angela Michelle

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Comments 23 comments

michael 4 years ago

spiders are aswsome

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angela_michelle 4 years ago from United States Author

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

ricky 4 years ago

to be honest, I only like daddylong legs.

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angela_michelle 4 years ago from United States Author

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

Shaddie profile image

Shaddie 4 years ago from Washington state

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

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angela_michelle 4 years ago from United States Author

What kind

melody 4 years ago

i have a pet spider

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

Oh wow, thanks so much!

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kgnature 6 years ago from North Carolina

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

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

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 6 years ago

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

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

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.

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GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California

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

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

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.

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

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.

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BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

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 profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

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.

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

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 profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

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!

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

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.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

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.

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angela_michelle 6 years ago from United States Author

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!

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Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

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

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