Do All Spiders Live on Land? (with picture)

If you thought that spiders were restricted to spinning webs in trees or in the corners of your house, think again. Even going underwater won't guarantee spider-free surroundings.

The diving bell spider spins a dome-shaped web underwater and fills it with air bubbles, allowing it to breathe beneath the surface.
The diving bell spider spins a dome-shaped web underwater and fills it with air bubbles, allowing it to breathe beneath the surface.

It turns out there's an aquatic arachnid known as the diving bell spider that spends nearly its entire life underwater. Roger Seymour, of the University of Adelaide in Australia, and Stefan Hetz, of Humboldt University in Germany, have delved into the existence of the only spider that makes its home beneath the waves, coming up with some astonishing details.

Most amazing, perhaps, is that while it has long been believed that the spider spent much of its time replenishing the air that inflates the dome-like home it builds among underwater plants, the truth is that it relies on natural processes to do much of the work.

There are more oxygen molecules in the water around the dome, so as the air inside the structure forces carbon monoxide out, the oxygen automatically replaces it. Basically, the spider only needs to surface about once a day to refill its home. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that nitrogen also seeps out of the bubble, making it shrink, the diving bell spider could stay underwater indefinitely.

Diving into some more details:

  • Diving bell spiders are carnivores, feeding on fairy shrimp, tadpoles, water fleas, and other small prey.

  • Oxygen bubbles inside the diving bell attach to the spider, allowing it to hunt prey for longer periods before needing to return to its home.

  • The scientific name for the diving bell spider is Argyroneta aquatica, which roughly translates to "silver spinner" -- the spider appears silver-colored underwater.

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    • The diving bell spider spins a dome-shaped web underwater and fills it with air bubbles, allowing it to breathe beneath the surface.
      The diving bell spider spins a dome-shaped web underwater and fills it with air bubbles, allowing it to breathe beneath the surface.