Spiders Have Personality Too

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Female social spiders, from a species called Stegodyphus sarasinorum, attack their prey.
Virginia Settepani
These hidden skills will knock your socks off.

Spiders, like humans and many other species, have their own distinctive characters that help to shape their individual lifestyles, a new study suggests.

Depending on the type of spider, the personality differences could help to predict whether the individual frequently pounces and attacks or is more likely to calmly sit around and observe.

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“The main personality measure that we used in our study was termed ‘boldness’ and was measured on a continuous scale, meaning that individuals could be found at any point of the scale from very shy to very bold,” lead author Lena Grinsted of Aarhus University’s Department of Bioscience told Discovery News.

For the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Grinsted and her team focused on the social spider Stegodyphus sarasinorum. Out of the more than 44,000 known spider species, it is one of only about 25 species that live in groups where members cooperate with each other.

“The vast majority of spider species live solitarily and are highly aggressive towards other spiders, even of the same species,” Grinsted said.

Even these solo operators probably have their own personalities, but for comparison, researchers Grinsted, Jonathan Pruitt, Virginia Settepani and Trine Bilde looked at S. sarasinorum female colony members that work together to handle common tasks. Those include duties like prey capture, feeding, brood care and building and maintaining the silk nest and capture web.

These spiders are impressive when capturing prey, such as big grasshoppers or beetles, which are more than five times their size. The female spiders will often cooperate in subduing the victims in the web.