Spiders are the most common and widespread of all arthropods, and they’re also among the lightest. A tiny arachnid could weigh as little as one milligram—that’s the weight of just a few grains of salt! But even these delicate creatures are sturdy enough to thrive and play a vital role in the world’s complex web of life. From minuscule spiders that are nearly impossible to see with the naked eye to giant tarantulas, their adaptability and resilience are fascinating. In this article, we’ll explore the realm of spider weights and take a closer look at what factors influence a spider’s size.
Measuring a spider’s weight can be tricky. But researchers have come up with a number of different ways to do it without causing harm to the spiders themselves. For example, they’ve developed specialized scales that can hold the small creatures. Alternatively, scientists can use a technique called tensiometer to measure the force of gravity on the spider’s body. This is a much more accurate way to get a general idea of a spider’s weight.
When it comes to a spider’s strength, the most important factor is its mass, or the amount of matter it contains. Muscle strength, on the other hand, depends on both the cross-sectional area of muscles and their volume. This is why a big, strong spider can lift far more than an equally large but weaker insect.
While some spiders eat larger prey such as birds, reptiles and mammals, most prefer insects. In fact, recent research suggests that the world’s spider population consumes between 400 and 800 million tons of prey each year—and 90% of that is insects!