How spiders fly


This 1977 music video is called Flyin’ Spiderz – City Boy.

The Flyin’ Spiderz were a Dutch punk rock band.

However, there are also real flying spiders.

This 2015 video says about itself:

Flying Spiders: See Them in Action | National Geographic

Some say that flying is just falling with style. But for the Selenops spider it’s an important defense mechanism. Researchers recently discovered that this arachnid is able to flip itself over and steer quickly back to the safety of its home base when it needs to elude an approaching predator.

From PLOS:

Flying spiders sense meteorological conditions, use nanoscale fibers to float on the wind

The crab spider spins out tens of fine silk fibers for its aerial dispersal

June 14, 2018

Spiders take flight on the smallest of breezes by first sensing the wind, and then spinning out dozens of nanoscale fibers up to seven meters long, according to a study publishing June 14 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Moonsung Cho, Ingo Rechenberg, Peter Neubauer, and Christoph Fahrenson at the Technische Universität in Berlin. The study provides an unprecedentedly detailed look at the “ballooning” behavior that allows certain spiders to travel on the wind for hundreds of kilometers.

Many kinds of spiders engage in ballooning, either to disperse from their birth site, to search for food or mates, or to find new sites for colonization. While most ballooning spiders are juveniles or small adults, under 3 millimeters in length, some larger adults also balloon. Although the behavior has been studied before, these authors are the first to make detailed measurements of both the sensing behavior and the silk fibers that are used to catch the wind.

Through a combination of field observations and wind tunnel experiments, they found that large crab spiders (Xysticus species), about 5 mm long and weighing up to 25 milligrams, actively evaluated wind conditions by repeatedly raising one or both front legs and orienting to the wind direction. At wind speeds under 3.0 m/sec (7 mph), with relatively light updrafts, the spiders spun out multiple ballooning silks averaging 3 meters long, before releasing themselves from a separate silk line anchoring them to the blade of grass from which they launched. A single spider released up to 60 fibers, most of them as thin as 200 nanometers. These fibers differed from a drag line, which has been known as a ballooning line, and were produced by a separate silk gland.

This video says about itself:

3 April 2018

An Observational Study of Ballooning in Large Spiders: Nanoscale Multi-Fibres Enable Large Spiders’ Soaring Flight

The PLOS article continues:

The authors concluded that ballooning spiders actively sense wind characteristics and launch only when the wind speed and updraft are within relatively narrow ranges, increasing the odds of a productive flight. According to the fluid dynamic calculations the authors performed using their wind tunnel data, the spider relies on updrafts that form in the light winds into which they launch, further ensuring a successful flight.

“The pre-flight behaviors we observed suggest that crab spiders are evaluating meteorological conditions before their takeoff,” Cho said. “Ballooning is likely not just a random launch into the wind, but one that occurs when conditions most favor a productive journey.”

The aerodynamic capabilities of spiders have intrigued scientists for hundreds of years. Scientists have attributed the flying behavior of these wingless arthropods to ‘ballooning’, where spiders can be carried thousands of miles by releasing trails of silk that propel them up and out on the wind. However, the fact that ballooning has been observed when there is no wind to speak of, when skies are overcast and even in rainy conditions, raises the question: how do spiders take off with low levels of aerodynamic drag? Here.

3 thoughts on “How spiders fly

  1. Pingback: Birds, invaluable for agriculture, forestry | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Wolf spiders’ favourite colours | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Spiders use electricity to fly | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.