The vast majority of spider species are well known for being solitary arthropods; instead of working cooperatively with other members of their species in an effort to gain resources, such as food, shelter, and protection from predators, spiders prefer to struggle alone in order to survive. Spiders are not usually friendly toward other spiders, whether they are from the same species or not. In fact, just about everyone knows that a great many spider species regularly indulge in post-coital cannibalism. Considering that spiders are even willing to eat those with whom they reproduce offspring, it should be understood that spiders are among the most uniquely solitary of all arthropod groups. However, little do many people know, but there does, in fact, exist a few spider species that seem to be just as social in their behavior as bees, ants, termites and wasps. In fact, social spider species even live within colonies that can grow to contain as many as 50,000 worker offspring.
Of the 45,000 spider species that have been documented by researchers, only 25 species have been found to demonstrate social behaviors to some degree. Many researchers believe that this figure is too high, and there actually only exists a mere 7 spider species that can be considered truly social, as only 7 species of spider have been found to live together within cooperative groups. The most social spider species ever discovered is named Anelosimus eximius, and these arachnids live communally within intricate 3 dimensional webs that span lengths of 25 feet. As you can imagine, these web/nests can hold vast amounts of individual spiders, similar to a colony. The most recent social spider species to be documented was discovered in Ecuador in 2006 by Leticia Aviles, a professional entomologist. Recent research into social spider species has revealed that individual members of social spider “colonies” possess their own unique personalities. In other words, the most uniquely individualistic spiders belong to the most social of spider species, which, ironically, happen to be spiders that lack solitary instincts.
Have you ever spotted a swarm of spiders that had been collectively traveling in a rhythmic manner?