Why Do Spiders Shake?

Insects are fascinating in how they live, catch food, defend, travel and adorn themselves. Some traits or features are pretty obvious such as the bright red hour glass on a widows underside that will get even the hungriest predator to take a minute to think over what it’s about to do. Others you can’t even tell like the paper wasps who put an invisible chemical on the stalk of their nest which repels ants from raiding the larval cells for food.

Orb spiders are intriguing because of their huge and sometimes ornate webs. Orb weavers are pure efficiency on their silken homes but basically defenseless to larger animals and will often scurry to the protection of the structure their web is attached to whether it’s a tree branch or roof eaves. In fact most orb weavers are quite clumsy off their webs and bites rarely occur except by accident or carelessness at the hands of the observer.

One form of defense that many orb spiders share is a violent shaking on their web when disturbed. As if glued to a trampoline going 90 mph orbs begin shaking in the middle of their webs and not even the most curious onlooker is so eager to investigate further. While you might think this vigorous action is done to make the spider look bigger and more dangerous or at any minute they’ll use the momentum to launch a viscous attack it might surprise you this is all just done for an illusion.The orb spiders shaking is so fast that they actually blur to a point where you can’t see them at all.(or so the theory goes) It is believed that any predator seeing this confusing situation might just stop nosing around and life can get back to normal for the orb weaver. While some shake really fast and others not so much one things for sure, the spider is definitely trying to fake you out into thinking she’s not there or perhaps more dangerous than she actually is.

Other common theories of the orbs shaking is that it helps entangle prey caught in the web further ensuring a meal or it is used in courtship when a possible mate approaches the web. In my travels I see more of the defensive shaking and I caught a bit of this on my camera. While the larger ones don’t seem to disappear so much as just come to a blur of sorts the smaller ones such as cellar spiders are barely visible once they get going. It’s fascinating to watch even if you know they’re just faking it.

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About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Saraluna4

    fascinating to know why. Seen this in the wild.

  • Hi Sara,
    I’m constantly in awe of what I see and I love finding out the reasons behind it– It’s a big world of insects and critters so I guess I’ll be busy learning new things for a long long time.