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The 6 Real and Terrifying Spider Superpowers

It's hard to be scared of spiders, because no matter how many legs they have, at the end of the day, look at how much bigger you are. The size of your feet will always trump the amount of poison they may have stored up in their tiny bodies. They're not superheroes or anything.

In reality, spiders are more like Spider-Man than we think. Though they have yet to master the make-out session, they have racked up some other pretty crazy abilities. Such as ...

#6. Illusions

h3_six

Have you ever seen a prison break movie where the prisoner tosses a few pillows under his blanket and makes it look like he's still sleeping, when in fact he's tunneling out? It sounds crazy, but some spiders have apparently seen those movies. There's no other explanation.

Some spiders, incredibly, have been observed taking dead bugs and webs and constructing life-size models of themselves to distract predatory wasps.

Getty
Apparently they'll let just anybody fly one of these.

To defend themselves, orb spiders build body doubles out of bug corpses and silk. To us it looks like bundles of junk have cluttered up their webs, but to predators those lumps of moldering insect pieces look just like lunch. That's because orb spiders, like all spiders, have bodies that reflect ultraviolet rays. By wrapping up bundles of trash with UV webbing, orb spiders are creating decoys that are not only the same size, but also the same color. The dummy spiders are such a good distraction that wasps will attack the wrong target 60 percent of the time. They're basically guessing.

BBC Earth News
Totally not creepy and disturbing at all.

Possibly even more unusual, the common garden spider has been known to trick insects into thinking its web is a flower. It turns out that flowers give bees and other insects explicit instructions on where to find the good stuff. They use UV coloring to highlight their nectar snatch. Striations in their petals that botanists describe as a "bull's-eye pattern" guide pollinators exactly where they need to go. It's like landing lights for bugs.


"Be the flower, Frank. Be the flower.

The garden spider, who must have Googled "striations" and "bull's-eye pattern," just like we did, produces a special type of nonadhesive silk and weaves it into its web. The zigzag patterns act like a neon beacon for the innocent buglings, guiding them in to their deaths. How effective are the spiders' deadly decorations? Research shows that they catch 50 percent more insects with their evil artwork than without. It's like a lion's den built to look like a Denny's.

#5. Glue Lasso

LadyDragonflyCC <3

In the movies, heroes and villains will often use exotic weapons like whips and chains, spinning them around with deft skill. But that's the movies -- nobody uses these things in real life. Unless it's a bolas spider, however; that thing will Indiana Jones you in the face.


"Anybody got a tissue?"

The bolas spider is a night hunter that uses webbing to catch its prey, like most spiders, but with a unique twist: It produces a cord of silk with a sticky glob of glue weighing down one end. This spider makes a lasso, or bolas, that it twirls around with one of its spindly legs to fling at passing moths. It's like fishing for pterodactyls with a bungee cord and a grappling hook.

To lure the moths in, the bolas spider can produce the pheromones that sexy female moths give off (so yes, only the males get eaten). And not just one type of moth, either. Researchers discovered that at different times the spider will produce different chemicals to call to the moth species that is currently active. When they get close enough ...

StormCoat, via Iowa State University
Sayonara.

And to be even more deceptive, some bolas spiders have eye spots on their backs to mimic the face of the moths they hunt. Just like picking a woman up at a bar in Miami, it's a sexy smell and a pretty face, and then you're dead.

Joshua S. Rose, Texas Parks and Wildlife
"No, really, I'm just down from Orlando for the weekend ..."

#4. Toxic Web Shooter

Andre Karwath

Spiders can bring the battle to their enemies from a distance; in fact, spiders have evolved multiple types of missile attacks. The green lynx spider, for example, is known to spit venom like a freaking cobra. This half-inch-long spider can hurl venom about 5 inches, or roughly 10 times its body length. Though the poison isn't fatal to humans, there's at least one report of a soldier taking a squirt to the eye and being blinded for two days.

The spitting spider does things differently: It can actually fire sticky silk out of its fangs. Not just its backside (after all, most spiders shoot their webs out of their spider butts), but out of its very mouth. Yes, web shooters actually exist.

M Hedin
"Spider-Man is a hack."

At a range of less than half an inch, it doesn't have the reach of the green lynx spider, but then again, spewing a Kevlar net from your mouth is probably a tad more difficult. As if this weren't unusual enough, the webbing is venomous. In effect, this means that the spider doesn't have to bite you; all it needs to do is put you in contact with its bodily fluids and then it can watch you die slowly under a net of poison glue.

To make sure the prey is subdued, because everyone knows that spraying you in the face with poison is just child's play, spitting spiders have been observed swaying in a Z pattern while they fire, maximizing the spray. It's your standard Super Soaker rules.

Charles Lewallen, Oklahoma Biological Survey
And they look like walking skulls. Just in case you weren't sure if they were evil incarnate.

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