Do Spiders Die In The Winter? (Answered)

The topic of spiders is creepy to some folks, and many people probably hope that spiders die in the winter, but these fascinating creatures are more friend than foe. Spiders are commonly seen in our homes in the spring and summer, but what happens to them in winter? Where do all the spiders go?

Do Spiders Die in the Winter?

Some spider species die in the winter, but the majority only enter a state of dormancy for the colder months when food is scarce. They reappear when the weather warms and food is more abundant. Spiders can tolerate low temperatures by secreting an antifreeze in their bodies to survive the cold.

Most spiders go into a period of dormancy during the winter. Some species hibernate in the true sense of the word, but for most species, they enter a state of dormancy known as diapause, in which their body systems slow down.

As winter approaches, the spiders will seek out a secluded, safe space where they can overwinter in relative safety. These spaces will normally be dark crevices, under rocks, leaves, under the bark of trees, and other similar safe locations.

They remain in this state until the cold temperatures of winter have given way to the warmer temperatures. They then emerge from their winter hideouts to resume their busy lives and scare the living daylights out of you!

Spiders Produce Anti-Freeze To Survive Cold Weather

Spiders can easily survive in temperatures down to 23-Fahrenheit or -5-Celsius. As the temperature gradually reduces, the spiders produce a chemical in their bodies called polyhydroxy alcohol.

This chemical acts as an anti-freeze and prevents their bodies and internal fluids from freezing and from ice crystals forming in their body fluids in cold temperatures.

The gradual decline of the temperatures as the season changes to winter triggers the production of this chemical in the spiders. Spiders cannot survive a sudden drop in temperature, as their bodies do not have the time to produce the anti-freeze.

Do Spiders Come Indoors In Winter?

Spiders will not actively seek out your home as a place to over-winter, so there is no need to fear a sudden influx of spiders from your garden into your home as winter approaches!

However, spiders that are already in your home may change their normal winter cycle and not go into a period of diapause or dormancy. The warm, snug environment of your home will keep them warm enough to be active throughout the winter, as long as the food supply is adequate.

In the winter months, they may be a little less active in your home, especially if their food supply dwindles, but they won’t enter an extended dormancy state like the spiders that remained outdoors.

If you discover a spider in your home in the winter, and you scoop it up and throw it outside, the sudden change to a cold environment could very well kill the spider. 

wolf spider on wall

In this case, the cold will cause the spider to die because it is a sudden change rather than a gradual change, and the spider’s body would not have the necessary time to adapt to the cold conditions.

Spiders need a gradual temperature change to stimulate the production of their internal anti-freeze that will protect them from the cold.

If you come across a spider in your home in the winter, rather leave it be, and it will continue to serve you by killing off insect pests in your home.

If you cannot bear the thought of sharing your home for the winter months with the spider, you can relocate it to your garage, basement, or other room where you spend less time.

Some Spiders Die Off In The Winter

Certain spiders only have a lifespan of a single season. One such spider with this lifecycle is the black and yellow garden spider, widely found across the USA. This means that the adults will mate in late summer, and the female will lay eggs in the fall, and after this, the adults will die out in the winter.

The eggs of these spiders will remain throughout the winter and hatch out in the summertime to start the next generation of spiders. The female spider will search out a location for the eggs that will keep them warmer than the surrounding freezing conditions. 

This protects the eggs, which could be damaged or destroyed if exposed to freezing temperatures, and ensures the next generation’s survival.

With other species, mating takes place in the fall, after which the male spiders die out. The female spider will survive the winter and lay her eggs in early spring. In these spiders, only the male dies off every winter after mating.

Can Spiders Survive Extreme Cold?

Spiders can survive in many parts of the world with extreme climates. Some cold regions, such as the Arctic regions of the planet, sustain over 100 different spider species. These species have developed different methods of dealing with the cold weather.

Some have shorter lifecycles, while other species seek shelter and go into dormancy for the long, cold winter months.

The only location in the world that is spider-free is the cold wastelands of Antarctica in the southern hemisphere. These places are too cold for the survival of spiders and never warm up enough to be conducive to supporting spiders and their prey.

Alaska, which has many parts where people struggle to survive, is home to over 600 species of spiders who thrive in this relatively inhospitable environment.

southern house spider | image by oliver.dodd via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

How Long Do Spiders Live?

Spiders do not have particularly long lifecycles compared to other animals in the natural world. Many spiders have a lifespan that only lasts a single season, but other species live a little longer than this.

The average lifespan of most spider species is 2-years in the wild. Most of these spiders could live longer, but the harshness of the environment in which they live or the associated dangers from predators reduces their lifespan.

Many spider species can live up to 20-years when kept in captivity. This shows that the longevity of many spiders is affected by their environment.

In captivity, the spiders are given a protected environment free from predators, and the climate is controlled, allowing them to live a much longer life.


Conclusion

Spiders can survive cold conditions fairly well and only succumb to the cold in extreme conditions. Most spiders have protective measures they can employ to get them through the winter. 

These protective measures include producing an internal anti-freeze to prevent the liquids in their bodies from freezing, combined with finding hiding spots that will protect them from the worst of the winter temperatures.

Other spiders may be lucky enough to find a human home that welcomes their presence and allows them to take up residence in the comfort of your home. In exchange, these spiders will reward you by controlling insect pests in your home!

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The Critter Hideout

The Critter Hideout talks about all types of creatures and critters including reptiles, amphibians, insects, and spiders. Our goal is to simply share helpful information and answer common questions.