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Spiders can sail across water like ships

Posted on Saturday, 4 July, 2015 | Comment icon 5 comments

Spiders appear to be masters of traveling by air, land and water. Image Credit: CC BY-2.0 Ian Kirk
It turns out that spiders are able to traverse expanses of water using their silk as a makeshift sail.
Researchers led by Dr Morito Hayashi of the Natural History Museum in London have revealed that spiders possess the remarkable ability to turn themselves in to little ships and sail across water.

Previous research had shown that some spiders could use their silk to catch the wind and be carried large distances through the air, an activity known as 'ballooning', however it hadn't been clear how such a technique could be used over water without the spider being at risk of drowning.

"We've now found that spiders actively adopt postures that allow them to use the wind direction to control their journey on water," said Dr Hayashi.

"They even drop silk and stop on the water surface when they want. This ability compensates for the risks of landing on water after the uncontrolled spider flights."

The findings were based on observations of 21 different species collected from nature reserves in Nottinghamshire and suggested that the spiders most adept at 'ballooning' were also the best at using their silk to control their movements on the water as well.

"Being able to cope with water effectively 'joins the dots' as far as the spider is concerned," said study co-author Dr Sara Goodacre. "It can move from one land mass to another, and potentially across huge spatial scales through the air."

Source: Independent | Comments (5)

Tags: Spider

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by freetoroam on 4 July, 2015, 20:49
Why did these researchers not just ask us boaters? Some of us have been watchers how the spiders get across the waters for years..and already sussed out these "results". Another interesting thing some areas of water you will see an influx of spiders making their home on boats and yet move the boat outside that particular area and the spiders "suddenly" disappear. Now thats a research i would like them to look at. I love spiders, not because they are beautiful looking creatures, but because they are fascinating little creatures.
Comment icon #2 Posted by schizoid78 on 5 July, 2015, 0:43
Hi agree freetoroam, Spider are fascinating. While all small insects seem to go fast nowhere spider are really slow, thinking, planning, stalking. A very good predator at a tiny scale! S
Comment icon #3 Posted by Infernal Gnu on 5 July, 2015, 3:38
Good grief, what next? Spiders will be found on the hull of the International Space Station?
Comment icon #4 Posted by fred_mc on 5 July, 2015, 8:59
I hope that those giant South American spiders, which are big as plates, don't come sailing over the Atlantic to us in Europe.
Comment icon #5 Posted by freetoroam on 5 July, 2015, 11:33
Hi agree freetoroam, Spider are fascinating. While all small insects seem to go fast nowhere spider are really slow, thinking, planning, stalking. A very good predator at a tiny scale! S Indeed, except when they spin their webs they are fast, and I mean really fast. I have watched as they make their webs and the speed for their size is pretty impressive.

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