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Why do Spiders Sit in the Middle of their Webs?

A spider will sit in the middle of its web because it is the spot where they can get to any other spot in the web as fast as possible. They can also get a good sense of where the prey has been caught from the center of the web.

However, not all spiders do actually sit in the middle of their web. If the spider identifies immediate danger, it may flee the web. Some spiders also sit away from the web for protection, so it does depend on the type of spider, type of spider web, and the purpose of their web.

why do spiders sit in the middle of their webs

In this article I’ll explain the four top reasons spiders sit in the middle of their webs:

  • Fast access to prey
  • To get around their web easily
  • To monitor the web’s structure

3 Reasons Spiders Sit in the Middle of their Webs

1. For Quick Access to Prey

Spiders sit in the center of their webs because it provides them with the easiest and fastest possible way to see and attack any potential prey coming into contact with their web.

An unlucky fly or bug that gets caught in the web might escape within seconds unless the spider can get to it in time. And in fact, many insects that caught in a web do manage to escape quickly. So, if the spider is sitting in the center of the web, it will have the fastest possible reaction time to start entrapping its prey.

Once a spider has caught its prey in the web, it will spin inject the prey with venom. The venom will either immobilize it or kill it.

Next, the spider wraps the prey in sticky silk to hold it in place until it’s ready to be eaten. Or, we should say – drunk! Because spider venom’s job is to turn the innards of an insect to liquid so the spider and suck out its juices.

2. It’s the Center of all possible Pathways

Spiders create non-sticky pathways in their webs to allow them to navigate around their web without getting stuck to it. Orb webs are actually made of two types of silk – one sticky, and one not:

  • Sticky silk is called viscid silk
  • Non-sticky silk is called dragline silk

The non-sticky sections create a series of pathways for the spider to get around its web without having to deal with getting its legs stuck to the web.

Logically, these pathways converge in the middle of the web, allowing the spider to run out in multiple directions when it senses its prey has gotten itself snared in the spider’s web.

3. To Monitor the Web’s Structure

Standing in the middle of the web means spiders can keep an eye on how much tension is left in the strands, which helps them decide when to repair or rebuild parts of their web.

In fact, many spider webs have very interesting and complex structures.

Just like houses, spider webs are made of load-bearing and non-load-bearing sections. The sections of the web that form the ‘skeleton’ need to stay intact in order to rest of the web up. If those strands break, the spider may choose to retreat to a safe place and start again.

In fact, even when a spider takes its web down during the day, some will often leave those structural non-sticky ‘dragline silk’ strands up to speed up the reconstruction process at dusk.

Orb webs are also designed so that one part of the web can collapse without destroying the whole web in the process. This is particularly important when an insect gets caught in the web and struggles so much that it destroys the web. If the web is designed so that only the part of the web with the struggling insect gets destroyed, it means that part of the web can be rebuilt without the whole web falling to bits.

Related: What do Spiders Do All Day?

Not all Spiders sit in their Webs

Some Spiders do sit in the middle of their webs, while others will not. Usually, orb weaver spiders will sit in the web (but not always).

Other spiders, like funnel-web weavers, create webs that are in the shape of a funnel. The spider will hide at the base of the funnel, only coming out of hiding once they’ve got their prey captured in the web.

Similarly, cobweb spiders spin very thick and disorderly webs and hide un underneath the thickness of the cobweb, only to emerge when they feel the vibrations of their prey trying to escape from above.

Furthermore, some spiders don’t make webs at all.

Even spiders who do usually sit in the web will, at times, abandon their post. This is commonly the case, for example, when it has become too windy for the spider to hang on. In these situations, the spider usually retreats to a solid structure like a tree branch until the wind subsides and they can return to their daily task of catching prey!

Why do Spiders sit still on their Webs all Day?

If the spider is sitting in its web, you may notice that it sits perfectly still for hours on end. This is for three reasons:

  • To preserve Energy. Spinning a spider web requires a lot of energy, so sitting still can help spiders recover their energy until they have to pounce on their prey.
  • So they don’t alert their Prey. If the spider moves around, the prey may become aware of the spider web glistening in front of them and they may swerve to avoid it.
  • To feel Vibrations. If the spider is perfectly still, it will be able to feel and react to vibrations faster. It’s a lot like when a fisherman holds perfectly still to feel the tug on his fishing rod.

Related: Are Spiders Predators?

Conclusion

Not all spiders sit in the middle of their webs. But, those who choose to take up their perch in the middle of a web usually do so for one of the following reasons:

  • Fast access to prey
  • To get around their web easily
  • To monitor the web’s structure

Despite those benefits, it could also be dangerous to the spider because it’s open and vulnerable to the weather or even attacks from predators such as birds.