Spiders are an important part of our world from the ecosystem to holiday decoration. In an attempt to better understand how these creatures work, many experiments are exploring the spider through tests involving imagery, vibrations, sound, etc. These experiments may show how spiders react with their simple nervous systems, but can spiders think?
Reproduction & Choice
Some spider species engage in mating displays that involve both sound and visual stimulation for the female. From one aspect, it appears that it is simply a way to distract the female while the male gains position, but experiments have shown that the female shows preference. She chooses certain movements and sounds over alternatives. This indicates spiders are capable of choosing and preferential ranking.
The ant spider is a spider that mimics ants in order to approach its desired food source. It has the advantage of having a shape more similarly related to that of an ant than a spider, but it goes beyond that. The ant spider will push its front legs up and forward to mimic the antennae of its target ants. This level of self-awareness necessary to distinguish between itself and the ants is one that evades many humans.
Webs as Brain Extensions
Humans were believed to be the first to create computers, but the spider may have an argument for beating us to the punch. If a computer can be defined as a brain aid that gathers and transmits information via wires to the operator, spiders beat us to the punch by centuries.
Spiders use their webs as extensions of their brains to gather and deliver information. If you have ever tried to trick a spider into attacking a blade of grass that drops into their web, you will have noticed they will usually ignore it. This is because spiders are able to distinguish the differences in vibrations among debris, precipitation, prey, threats, and damage.
One of the most impressive displays of advanced thought comes from the Portia spider. This spider has the mental capability to deceive and plan. The Portia spider can approach an orb weaver’s web, determine the best angle to approach clandestinely, and begin its deception. The Portia spider will pluck strings in the web in a way that mimics web-captured prey. It patiently waits to play its trick until the other spider approaches to redeem its meal. Once the Orb Weaver is in striking distance (demonstrating further calculation), the Portia spider attacks. If the first attack fails for some reason the Portia spider develops new methods of attacking.
While many spiders show evidence of advanced thought processes, they still have simple nervous systems. They are unable to put together elaborate schemes to terrorize and outthink humans. They probably aren’t going to enter any classrooms any time soon other than to catch a gnat in a web. If you are dealing with unwanted spiders, they can be convinced to leave by altering their habitat or simply by killing them. For help on either end of this spectrum, reach out to the arachnid experts at Rove Pest Control.