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Spiders On Snow

The internal body temperature of spiders is variable and tends to fluctuate with their environment.  This means that the cold temperatures of winter pose a challenge. Spiders meet this challenge in one of several ways.  A majority (as many as 85%) of species crawl under the leaf litter, shut their metabolism way down and become dormant; some species mate, lay eggs and die; and some remain active. 

It is not unusual to come across tiny active spiders on top of the snow, especially on sunny winter days. If it’s particularly cold, they may have their legs pulled in and appear lifeless.  When their body is sufficiently warmed up, they will resume crawling across the snow. 

The metabolism rate of spiders that remain active through the winter is elevated, making starvation as big a threat as freezing.  They must find food (springtails and other invertebrates) in order to sustain themselves.  Some of these spiders can remain active until their body temperature is 25 F degrees when they will go dormant like other spiders. They cannot survive If their internal temperature drops to 19 F. degrees. (Source, Vermont Center for Ecostudies) (Photo: active spider surviving despite loss of one leg)

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4 responses

  1. Alice

    It’s interesting to watch spiders. Always have some Crab spiders on flowers…watched one catch a moth. Last fall, there was a huge Fishing Spider in the basement, on the wall, put a container over it, then a piece of paper between wall & container & brought it outside, so it could be in our woods.

    February 8, 2021 at 9:21 am

    • That’s great, Alice! Wish everyone felt the way you do!

      February 8, 2021 at 6:02 pm

      • Alice

        Thank you, Mary. Fishing Spiders are particularly interesting and beautiful. Rescuing/relocating animals is the only option.

        February 10, 2021 at 1:15 pm

  2. Trish Leipold

    Sorry Mary. The photos went without explanation. Was out walking the other morning and came on this. Victim looks to be a turkey. Large canid tracks around, but don’t understand the hole dug down through the frost. We do have a bobcat around but couldn’t find definitive bobcat tracks. Wondering if bobcat took turkey & partially ate and then buried. Found & finished off by coyote. It all happened over one overnight period. Thanks for your thoughts, Trish Leipold

    Sent from my iPhone


    February 9, 2021 at 11:30 am

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