How do spiders chose web location?

I’ve discovered a spider in the corner of my shower recently, and, since he isn’t a great talker (I’ve asked him this), I have to ask this of the Teeming Millions.

How do spiders chose where to build their webs? It would make sense to me that they should be in a “high traffic” area, but I see all kinds of webs that are in corners, where it doesn’t seem logical that many insects would gather.

I’m referring specifically to spiders that find their way inside, but I suppose outside spiders intrigue me, too.

Resale value, school district, and certain intangibles.

I have a few guesses:

  1. Some spiders can float through the air when young - they probably just make a web wherever they land.

  2. Spiders hatch and follow some simple set of directions like an ant. We can simulate organized movements of ants with just computer programs using Ifs/Thens (I saw it on Discovery Channel long ago, they made really simple antlike robots that started working together).

Spider hatches
Walk in random direction
If you come across another spider
Then if you are bigger fight but if you are smaller run in random direction
If you come across an insect
Then if you are bigger eat it but if you are smaller hide or run
If you hit a corner
Then build a web
If you see twigs 2 feet apart
Then build a web
If you sense bug droppings or other insect chemicals
Then build a web


  1. A female spider can produce hundreds to thousands of eggs several times in her life, so only a few spiders have to be right to keep the genes going. The spiders you see are just the select few that are lucky/smart enough to pick a good location for a web. The rest are eaten or starve to death. Spiders have hundreds of millions of evolution behind them, so I’m guessing they’ve gotten pretty good at selecting a web location. The ones who couldn’t detect the proper cues on the optimal location for a web were weeded out millions of years ago.

It’s somewhat of a metaphysical question - like how do we know to breath?

I’m referring to the apparent idiots of the spider world. I don’t see a lot of insects hiding in the corners of my shower (where the ceiling meets the shower wall).

The thing is, I’d noticed Zeus before (yes, I named him). And he’s still there. At least, I assume it’s the same one. Sure looks like him, so far as I can see.

But I’ve NEVER seen big insect traffic in my bathroom.

I have wondered this myself. I once found a spider web INSIDE my car! He must have been carried inside on some clothing. I have also found spiders webs in odd places in the house, where I’m sure they don’t catch any flies.

I’d also like to know how some spiders manage to see two points between which he can begin a web. I’m talking about the garden spiders that build a circular web. Sometimes they supporting line at the top can be 3, 4 or even 5 feet apart. Is a typical garden spider’s vision good enough to actually judge that distance? And how do they get across with the silk trailing behind them?

Sorry, just realised that was hijack, but I’m just curious. :slight_smile:

Just a wild guess about the spider in the corner of the shower. There are many small insects that we can hardly even see, maybe he’s munching on those dudes?

Well my apartment has brown recluses, and they love to make webs right across the crown molding where the wall meets the ceiling (at least I think it’s them, since I found one in a web above my bed - ack!). They also put them in the corners, and I have seen some in the shower as well. I guess there must be a reason, since during the summer I see webs all throughout the apartment. Or maybe they’re just the dumb ones :slight_smile:

Man, if they are really recluse, be careful. I know people that had to have surgery after being bit by one of those nasty critters.

How do spiders chose web location?

By Googling?

yuk yuk :slight_smile:

I think spiders choose corners because there are more surfaces to attach the webs.

Worse things can happen to a spider than being dumb:

I knew about the experiment Small Clanger linked to, but I didn’t know this part:


Anyway galen has a point. If you find yourself inside a house, where else are you going to spin a web?

They don’t have to. It’s self-selecting behavior. To wit (assuming this is your typical orb weaver): (1) Young spider balloons. (2) Lands in location. (3) Briefly explores surroundings to make sure there’s a hidey-hole. If not, return to 1. (4) Sends out a streamer thread. (5) If streamer thread attaches, spin a web; otherwise go back to 4 a couple of times, with a second or third failure suggesting a return to 1. In short, you don’t see spiders spinning webs where they can’t spin webs because they couldn’t spin a web.

Remember, a spider can whip up a web pretty quickly. Every couple of weeks I go out to my car in the morning and find an enterprising arachnid has spun itself a web in the intersection between the rear view mirror and the side of the car. And haven’t you ever gotten a face-full of silk going out your house door in the morning, when there was no web there the previous night?

In summary, then, it seems to me that we notice spiders in “prime” locations because that spider has gotten lucky. We don’t notice spiders in non-prime locations because they starved and died or gave up and moved on.

As for the profitability of corners, my mom’s house has spiderwebs in many corners, and there always seems to be a few houseflies stuck in each. I don’t know why you haven’t seen any in Zeus’ web yet; that could mean that you’re in a bad climate for houseflies, or it might mean that they’re all eaten by the time you look, or maybe something else entirely.

I’ll concede this point, although I WILL point out that Southern Indiana is pretty much Housefly Central.

I think the reason I haven’t seen anything in Zeus’ web is because he’s picked such a strange spot: The corner of the bathroom where the tile from the shower meets the plaster from the cieling.

And he will, for a long time. If you have given him a name, then you’re gonna love it, like a pet. Lucky spider.

Hey Superdude, can you post a picture? I’m sure we’d all like to meet Zeus.
Also wondering how likely it is to be male. Your choice of moniker may be either confusing or empowering…

You know, Cervaise, it’s ironic that you ask that. I was about to post the following horrific story:

Zeus is dead. I took a shower this morning, and, shortly after I said hello to him, he tried to decend on a webline, and…um…“interfaced” with the water flowing out of the showerhead.

After a mad scramble (and, I’ll admit I was pulling for the guy), he was sucked down the shower drain. Presumably never to return.