Scientists found a species of spider uses its web to expand its hearing capabilities. The study has been published in bioRxiv preprint server. Previous research has proved that some species of spiders “hear” using tiny, sensitive hairs on their legs. Many types of spiders can feel web vibrations by using mechanosensitive slit organs caused by captured insects. This alerts them to the arrival of a meal. Scientists found one type of spider named Larinioides sclopetarius, uses its web to expand its hearing capabilities.
L. sclopetarius is known as grey cross or bridge spiders. They were using their webs in unusual ways. Scientists collected many samples and brought them into their lab. They set up set up boxes that the spiders used as scaffolding to build their webs. They developed a means for directing sound at the web without striking the spiders. The spiders reacted to sounds that made their web vibrate slightly. It is like the tympanic membrane in the human ear. The vibrations were transferred to the strain sensitive slit organs on the spider’s legs. The spiders can feel it. They reacted to it by crouching or flattening its body.
Scientists have done additional testing. They showed that the spiders could “hear” sounds from 3 meters. They can also make out differences in the sounds they heard. The responded differently to each sound. Scientists noted that the web as an expanded form of ear drum expanded the range of sounds the spiders could hear. Spiders can only detect relatively loud sounds from a relatively close source via leg hairs. They also noted that the webs the spiders build are large in proportion to their body size. They are nearly 10,000 times as large.