6 Adorable Spider Behaviors You Slowly Realize Are AAAAAHHH!
Objectively, we all know that, even when they look absolutely terrifying, most spiders are completely harmless. Hell, some of them don't even look like the devil threw up a nightmare: Spiders are furry, have big ol' puppy dog eyes and do adorable things like wear dew as hats. But that's not quite enough to quiet the screaming voices telling you to abandon everything and run -- just run and never stop running -- every time you walk through an errant web. So here are a few reasons you might just want to give the next spider you see a big ol' hug instead of a series of stomps followed by anxious sobbing.
Spiders are good at hugging, you see. They have oh so many arms. Tuck in close, now ...
Using Perfume to Attract Lovers
We all want to smell our best for prospective mates, and Evarcha culicivora are no different. That's right: Studies have shown that even spiders prefer their mates perfumed. Despite all of their inherent alien horror, there's something kind of adorable about that, isn't there? Any creature that cares enough about making that good first impression on a member of the opposite sex is a creature we can relate to. You can just imagine the little fellas now, all clasping their little furry legs together with wide-eyed earnestness while a pretty-smelling girl comes sidling up to them.
"Man, is it hot in here, or is it just my huge spider boner?"
So what is it that makes these little debutantes go wild for each other? What is spider perfume? Maybe they rub themselves up on some pretty flowers, roll around in a field of berries, bathe in fresh spring water?
It's blood. Malaria-infected blood.
Axe Body Spray uses basically the same ingredients.
Making Music to Attract the Ladies
The serenade is the most romantic, loving, gentle and civilized form of courtship. Even our eight-legged monster friends know it. But spiders don't have acoustic guitars, or pianos, or even CDs to burn romantic mix tapes onto. So what's a lonely spider to do? Well, males of the Dictyna civica species play music for the ladies by making a series of vibrations on the female's web. So it's part mating dance, too, which we all know animals do, but the weird thing is that the music and rhythm play an important part in the wooing.
Know any Skynyrd?
Maybe tying music and romance together is pure anthropomorphism on our part, but songbirds, crickets and whales all do it, and we can't help but view them with an air of gentleness because of this behavior. They sing, they mate, they love.
They liquify their prey.
Of course, if the male spider plays one off-note -- makes one little misstep -- he'll be mistaken for a struggling fly. Then the female, instead of telling him he has a kind soul and then boning him on a stained futon to a Dave Matthews Band song, will charge out and devour him.
"Dude, she's not mad. When I asked, she said nothing was wrong."
Motherhood is a magical thing: Any mother would do just about anything for her own special little mucusy subcreature. You'd take a bullet for yours, suffer through sleepless nights to comfort it and perhaps even cut back on those monthly porn subscriptions just to feed it, clothe it and buy it toys. One day, maybe, God willing, you'll even grow so attached that you'll bother to give it a name and stop referring to the baby as an "it."
That's what the poets call "love."
In between whole stanzas of screaming.
Turns out our human mothers don't have a lock on that shit. A spider mommy of the Stegodyphus variety very nearly starves herself just to feed her young, regurgitating every meal so all her babies get fed. She sacrifices everything: Her health, her well-being, even her life to defend her brood. It takes a lot for a thinking being to repress its own survival instincts; for a predatory animal, it is nothing short of amazing. Birds, mammals -- even turtles abandon the hell out of their young the first chance they get, and those are the ninjas that first taught us about the true bonds of friendship.
So it's pretty astounding to think of the Stegodyphus spider putting them all to shame with her intense, matronly love. But instead of Mother's Day cards and a call every Christmas, her children show their gratitude by climbing onto her abdomen as soon as they are physically able, then sinking their fangs into her belly and drinking her.
"It beats ending up in a home."
Jumping Spiders Raving It Up (Then Boning Mid-Air)
Some spiders live their entire lives at an endless, sex-fueled rave. No, we're not talking about X-based tactile hallucinations. Some jumping spiders actually have built-in glow sticks, and they even use them to dance:
"As if dressed for a psychedelic rave, jumping spiders sport glowing patches on their bodies to lure in eight-legged mates, a new study finds."
And it gets better.
"But how?" you ask, "How is being an eight-legged predator that is also basically a living glow stick not the best thing ever?"
Well, easily enthused reader with confusing and frightening life goals, read on: Not only do jumping spiders use this UV dance to attract mates, there's one species that follows up by boning ... in mid-fucking-air. No other species of spider -- or really anything short of birds and nymphomaniacal Hawkmen -- does that. It goes like this: Dude dances, girl dances back a little, dude takes the sign and advances, girl drops a spider line, then they both climb down the sex-rope and begin banging right out in the open air like horny trapeze artists.
No spider porn here -- you'll just have to picture them fucking.
Yep, Portia spiders are the spiders you want to be, if you want a life of partying and glow-arms and Parkour-style aerosex.
Well, if you're a lady Portia, that is.
Because mid-copulation, the female twists around and eats the male, often before he's even finished. So how do they reproduce? Why, she simply harvests and saves his sperm for later.
Let's not get any ideas, ladies.
The whip spider, so named for the two front legs that have evolved into whiplike appendages, looks like a horrifying cross between a crab and Shelob from The Lord of the Rings. So what does this monster use those whips for? To scourge their enemies? To snare prey out of the air? Kinky spider sex? Nope: They use them to pet their children.
Wait, no, we misspelled "AAAHHHGG!"
The whip spider's feelers extend three to six times the length of their bodies, have full range of movement and are "capable of delicate tickle movements." And look: How adorable! The babies like to cuddle their mommies back, too.
Not many displays of familial love make you itch just by looking at them.
It's not just a necessity of habitat, either. If you take them out of their home environment and put them in any new one, the family will all immediately run back together and start stroking each others' bodies and whips with their feelers. It's a fuzzy-wuzzy image of familial love that most of us have only seen at the end of '80s sitcoms and in stock photos.
It's like Thanksgiving, only with human eyes as the entrees.
But of course, when they turn into teenagers, they all hack each others' goddamn limbs off.
Ahhh, teamwork: From roommates tag-teaming the dishes, to good friends helping you move, to families bringing in the groceries together, it's teamwork that best defines us as human beings. You can find teamwork at the heart of every good relationship, every charitable impulse and yes, also in the hideous writhing claws of our spider friends.
Consider your nightmare tax paid in full.
Though cooperation isn't totally unheard of in arachnids, it is a rarity, and Theridion nigroannulatum practically embodies it. This species of spider opts not to go it alone, and instead lives as a nice, big ol' family, just teamworking it up like nobody's business.
Aw, that ...
... just made us love God a little bit less.
Okay, so it looks bad. Really, horribly, night-terrorishly bad -- like a set of the devil's Tinker Toys. But that doesn't mean the behavior is evil, right? It's not like their definition of "teamwork" is a several-thousand-spider-strong nest that hunts in packs, hiding beneath leaves and then scurrying out en masse -- thousands of spiders swarming and attacking at once -- to overwhelm and devour larger prey and oh wait, no, that's exactly what it is:
"The spiders carry their kill back to the nest and share it with all of the others in the community. It's truly remarkable. Not only do the spiders cooperate during the kill, but if the prey is large they take turns carrying it back."
Like this cameraman, who was immediately devoured for his intrusion.
Hey, that whole "bringing the groceries in" bit was pretty spot on, eh? We just forgot to mention that the "groceries" in question are murdered by thousands of venomous spiders beforehand.
You can challenge Dawn to a fight @DawnSmash. Or just ask her how her day's been. You know, whatever.
For more tiny terrors, check out The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe) and The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World.
And be sure to check out Cracked's Page of Horror for hilariously horrifying articles like The 6 Creepiest Places on Earth and The 6 Creepiest Places on Earth (Part 2).