Spider mass suicide ?

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The recent heavy rain had a least one surprising consequence. We found that many Purse-web spiders (Atypidae) had intentionally or accidentally drowned themselves. Spider corpses were found in pools and in buckets of collected rainwater. One theory (ours) is that the rains flooded the underground burrows of male spiders forcing them out.

According to easy research, the male Purse-webs would normally leave their tunnels in the autumn anyway to seek the burrow of a potential mate. Maybe the rains pushed them out before they were ready which led to them wander confused and disoriented. Observing the odd behavior of the live spider in the photo for a while convinced us that it was wandering and undirected. We also can not tell if the spiders observed were male or female which would throw our theory out the window.

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2 thoughts on “Spider mass suicide ?

  1. A lot of spiders like this over here, too. Not sure about the theory, though: ours seem to be a bit water-resistant! Amazingly, we have seen them crawl alive from the depth of the swimming pool, after a stay of over 24 hours!

  2. Thanks T.O.H. – Spiders that I have scooped from the pool (after who knows how long underwater) have mysteriously disappeared after a few hours in the sun. I suspected that birds may have carried them off. Two hours ago I placed eight very limp specimens on a table outside to see what will happen. No signs of life so far. I think that these are goners.

    I wonder about the motivation to submerge themselves or is it an accident?

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