Spiders Can Traverse Long Distances Across Water - Here's How

By Kamal Nayan - 04 Jul '15 08:46AM

Spiders can traverse long distances across water and in a new study researchers have explained the mechanism behind it. The study also notes what leads them to colonize at a rapid pace in new areas.

According to the study spiders traverse long distances in water with the help of their legs as sails and their silk as an anchor.

Spiders also use a technique called 'ballooning' which involves a spider to use their silk to catch the wind and help them rise into the air. All that ballooning spiders need to move up to 30km per day is right wind conditions.

Notably the technique is not risk free as an airborne spider does not have good control over its direction. This some times make spiders land on water, reducing its changes to survive the journey.

Lead author Morito Hayashi of the Natural History Museum, London, said spiders manage to travel across water as well by actively adopting postures that allow them to use the wind direction to gain control over their journey across water.

Spiders are also capable of dropping silk and stopping on water surface whenever they require. This helps them negate the lethal effects of landing on water after the uncontrolled flights.

"The ability of individuals capable of long-distance aerial dispersal to survive encounters with water allows them to disperse repeatedly, thereby increasing the pace and spatial scale over which they can spread and subsequently exert an influence on the ecosystems into which they migrate", Hayashi added in a statement.

Findings of the study have been published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

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