Feature Creature: Diving Bell Spider

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Feature Creature: Diving Bell Spider

Credit: Stefan Hetz

Credit: Stefan Hetz

Credit: Stefan Hetz

Tara Afshar, Journalist

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Contrary to common belief, not all arachnids will drown in water. Meet the Diving Bell Spider, which spends the entirety of its life underwater. The eight legged creature has to build its own “diving bell” before going underwater, since it acts as its air supply. “Diving bells” are bubbles created around the spider’s abdomen, by using the small hairs on its legs. Diving Bell Spiders then swim down to their web, since spider silk also works under water, and releases the bubble into the nest. This bubble acts as their central base of operations for the arachnid, since it provides shelter for the creature’s everyday life and has to be replenished everyday or so. Air also gets trapped on the fine hairs along the spiders body which acts as a scuba suit, along with the air around its abdomen since that is where the respiratory system resides.

The Argyroneta aquatica lives among plants as it needs a place for its web, and feeds on crustaceans and aquatic insects. These aquatic arachnids are native to northern and central Europe through Siberia and Asia, and never attack humans unless provoked. Their painful bites can cause inflammation and sometimes fever. Mating season occurs during mid to late spring and in order to reproduce, a female Diving Bell Spider must create a suitable nest for her egg sack after she has mated. Which means she will have to take multiple trips to the water’s surface to make an air pocket big enough for her sack. The mother then guards the egg sack until her babies break their way out of the sack, which is about three to four weeks, much like spiders on land. Diving Bell spiderlings stay with their mother for a few molts until they have reached their peak of maturity and development. This is when they disperse, and start leading their own new lives by themselves.