Spidey Senses

Do spider senses really tingle?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Spiders are sooo creepy. With their long legs, beady eyes… and NO EARS?! That’s right. Unlike many living creatures, spiders do not have known eardrums. But, they detect and react to sound. How?

Meet Jian Zhou and his team of researchers at Argonne National Laboratory. 

The team investigated how orb-weaving spiders – like the Charlotte the spider in Charlotte’s Web – detect sounds. They placed tiny speakers near spiders and their webs and played a variety of sounds. Then, they observed how the spider and the web reacted.

What did they find? The spiders did not listen to the sound, they felt it! The sounds generate vibrations that travel through the spider’s web, and up their legs! Better yet, a web can amplify this feeling by TEN THOUSAND!

Scientists hope this new discovery about this spidey sense can be applied to humans. Such as learning how to repair hearing loss!

Take a bow Spidey! And feel that applause!

Reference: Zhou, J., Lai, J., Menda, G., Stafstrom, J. A., Miles, C. I., Hoy, R. R., & Miles, R. N. (2022). Outsourced hearing in an orb-weaving spider that uses its web as an auditory sensor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(14), e2122789119.