Aggressive Spiders Are Adapting To Survive Tropical Storms

Given Louisiana’s humid, wet and relatively mild winter climate, numerous arthropod pest species thrive in the state. Some of the most commonly encountered arthropod pests found within Louisiana homes include grasshoppers, bed bugs, house centipedes, flies and the state is home to a high number of cockroach, ant and termite pest species. For example, nine termite pest species have been documented in Louisiana, and some of the most harmful and annoying ant species, such as red-imported fire ants and crazy ants, have established an invasive habitat within Louisiana. Obviously, Louisiana sees many tropical storms that frequently cause devastating floods in urban and suburban areas. Many residents are under the impression that arthropod pests are unable to survive these conditions, but recent research has revealed that populations of an aggressive social spider species, Anelosimus studiosus, is growing in response to the state’s frequent hurricanes.

Anelosimus studiosus is commonly known as the “communal spider,” and this species belongs to a genus of cosmopolitan web-spinning spiders that are commonly encountered around and within homes. Arthropods have existed for hundreds of millions of years, so they have adapted well to surviving even the harshest of climatic conditions. Red-imported fire ants, for instance, survive flood conditions by hooking their bodies together to form a floating structure in order to keep their queen above water. Communal spiders are able to survive hurricanes due to their unusually aggressive temperament. Communal spiders, as their name suggests, are classified as social spiders, which are tremendously rare, as most spider species are solitary. High aggression in spiders can be both an advantage and disadvantage in times when food sources are scarce, like during extreme weather events. In some cases, food scarcity will make aggressive spiders pursue food sources with great speed and boldness, enabling their survival during hurricanes. In other cases, aggressive spiders resort to species infighting over scarce food sources. Researchers found that aggressive communal spider colonies survive hurricanes in greater numbers than other more docile spider species, allowing females to lay a high number of egg cases within 48 hours following a storm’s end. Because of this, communal spiders are able to survive well into the winter months. The foraging cooperation among these social spiders during times of food scarcity allows them to survive, and even grow in number during hurricanes and other harsh climatic conditions.

Have you ever found a large group of spiders or insects struggling to survive during a major storm?




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