How long do spiders live? And other spider facts

A spider in the middle of its web
Look out for spiders indoors and out! (Photo: Claire Borrowdale/WTML)

Wait! Before you go any further, there's something you should know. We get up close and personal with our eight-legged friends below. And there are some truly awesome photos. So if spiders give you the heebie jeebies, you have been warned!

As the season changes, you may have noticed some big hairy spiders crawling out of the bath plughole, scuttling across the floor, or dangling from the ceiling. It's because early autumn is the breeding season for spiders and the males are out and about searching for a female to pair up with.

Spiders are a type of arachnid, a minibeast that has eight legs and no antennae. There are around 650 species of spider in the UK, most of which live outdoors.

Running crab spider on a leaf
Most spiders in the UK live outdoors, you're less likely to find this running crab spider indoors. (Photo: Amy Lewis/WTML)

How long do spiders live?

Most UK spiders live for around a year, but the females of some species can life for up to two or three years, especially if they live indoors. The oldest recorded spider in the world was an Australian trapdoor spider, which lived to the ripe old age of 43 before being killed by a wasp.

How do spiders make webs?

A spider produces strands of sticky silk from glands in its stomach called spinnerets. When the strands come into contact with the air, they harden into strong and stretchy threads called gossamer, which the spider uses to spin its web.

Image of a spider in the center of its web with trees in the background.
Spiders spend lots of time building their webs to catch their dinners. (Photo: Tim Sheerman-Chase/WTML)

How big can spiders grow?

The giant house spider can have a body up to 1.8cm long, and the daddy long legs can have legs that are as long as 5cm. You may think that's pretty big as spiders go, but the world's largest spider, the giant birdeater tarantula, can be the size of a dinner plate. Don't worry - you won't find one hiding in your cupboard as they live in the rainforests of South America!

How many eyes do spiders have?

Many types of spider have eight eyes - a main pair at the front and three other pairs of secondary eyes. Despite having so many eyes, most spiders don't see that well and rely more on touch and taste to find their way around.

Close up image of a wolf spider showing its eight eyes.
Spiders don't use their eight eyes as much as you'd expect, they rely on other senses more. (Photo: John Bridges/WTML)

Where do spiders live?

Indoor spiders like to live in dusty corners, cupboards and other hidey holes. Outdoor spiders live in all sorts of places - gardens, woods, holes in walls and fences, even in water.

How do spiders reproduce?

When a male spider finds a female, he gives her a web a little shake to get her attention. If she likes the look of him, she invites him in and they mate. The male spider dies during the winter and, when spring comes, the female produces her eggs, which are contained in silky sacs, or bags. After a month or so, the spiderlings emerge from the eggs. Different spider species mature at different rates, some a few weeks after hatching, and some taking around two years to reach maturity.

Image of a female wolf spider with her spiderlings on her back.
The female wolf spider carries her spiderlings on her back, how many can you count? (Photo: Richard Backer/WTML)

Do spiders bite?

Did you know that all spiders have fangs? Not to worry though, the fangs of most UK spiders aren't strong enough to break your skin. A few might bite, but only if they feel threatened. Their bites aren't dangerous and will only be red and itchy for a day or two at most.

Woodland Trust family membership welcome box

Get wildlife activities delivered to your door

If you and your kids love nature, then our family membership is for you.

You can discover all about animals, trees and woods with exciting activity packs every season. They're bursting with facts, puzzles, crafts and games - great for getting youngsters active outdoors and encouraging their curiosity.

Plus, when you become members you'll help us protect the UK's woods and trees for wildlife and people.

Find out more about Woodland Trust family membership.

What's your favourite spider fact?

comments powered by Disqus