Spiders are very different from us humans and we often have a hard time understanding spiders and their behavior exactly. The mating behavior of the spider is no exception and even though we have a pretty good understanding of how spiders find their mates there are still a lot of things that we do not know. But before we get to that let’s first take a look at how spiders find their mates.
As a whole, spiders find mates in different ways depending on their species. Some spiders find their mates through pheromones, others by actively running around and searching for females, and some through sensing vibrations through the air and ground that female spiders produce.
There are a lot of different spider species and hundreds of new species and subspecies of spiders are discovered each year. And every species has a slightly different approach to finding a suitable mate.
But most species either use pheromones or vibrations or both to find a mate.
In the following sections, I will take a closer look at how common house spiders, jumping spiders, and tarantulas find their mate. These spider species belong to the most well-known and most often encountered species of spiders in our modern world.
How Common House Spiders Mate
I personally count several spider species under the umbrella of common house spiders. Generally, any spider that is spinning a web and can commonly be found in or around homes in the US count as common house spiders for me. This includes the black widow, the American house spider, long-bodied cellar spiders, and so on.
As a whole, common house spiders find their mate by spinning a web and covering it in pheromones to attract male spiders. The male spider will then plug some strings on the web in a specific way to let the female spider know that it is here and ready to mate.
Some spiders, like the black widow, are known to attack anyone that enters their web uninvited so they are often seen attacking and eating potential mates.
Why they attack their potential mate is not yet certain but it is possible that the female black widow either didn´t realize it was a male because the male spider wasn´t able to communicate quickly enough that it is not a threat or maybe the female black widow eats male spiders that it deems not fit for mating.
Most other web-spinning spiders are not as aggressive. The female will simply cover her web in pheromones to attract a male spider and the male spider will “knock on the door” by vibrating or swinging the web in a certain way.
The female spider will then move towards the male spider and mate with it.
Male spiders will often destroy or ad their own spider silk to the female’s web to keep other potential mates away.
How Jumping Spiders Mate
Jumping spiders can also often be found in American homes but they don´t create webs to catch prey and because of that their mating behavior is also slightly different. But how do jumping spiders find mates?
Jumping spiders find mates by dancing and creating vibrations that female spiders can sense. Female spiders have UV reflective patches on their body that the male can see from far away. The male jumping spider will drum on the floor while dancing to attract and impress the female.
While this display of the male spider is very interesting and cute to observe it also has a dark side to it. The male jumping spider shows his position to every female jumping spider near him and if food sources are scarce or an already mated female jumping spider sees him it might decide to eat it instead of mate with it.
So the male jumping spider is very careful whenever a female jumping spider approaches it because it does not know if it wants to eat it or mate with it.
But if the female jumping spider is impressed with the display of the male jumping spider then it will mate with it.
How Tarantulas Mate
The mating ritual of tarantulas is again slightly different from the jumping spider and to common web-spinning house spiders.
As a whole, tarantulas find mates by following pheromones that female tarantulas leave behind. Once a male tarantula has found the burrow of a female it will tab its feet on the ground to alert the female to its presence. If the female is willing to mate it will come out and the male tarantula will display its mating dance.
If the female is not interested then it will simply not come out of its burrow and the male tarantula will eventually give up and search for another female.
The male tarantula will carry its sperm around in a sperm sack spun with a web to impress the female during the mating dance.
The male tarantula will also tab its feed on the ground, raise and lower its abdomen, and lower the front part of its body to impress the female.
If the female is impressed it will mate with the male tarantula but if it is not it will either go back in its burrow or she will chase the male tarantula away.
Do Spiders Live With Mates?
We, as humans, are social animals and as such we like to spend time with other humans and we usually live together with our mates and our children. But spiders are very different.
As a whole, spiders don´t usually live with their mates. After mating, they will usually go their separate ways. Some web-spinning spiders do live in loose groups and tolerate each other.
But even then male spiders often have a far lower life expectancy than female spiders which is why most male spiders die soon after mating with the female and sometimes they even get eaten by their mate.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂