We all know that there exists several insect species that are capable of producing sounds that are audible to the human ear. These sounds are often referred to as “songs” despite the lack of a melody which most people consider to be a defining element of songs. Although insect songs may be lacking in melody, they are essential for attracting members of the opposite sex, much like love songs. It will surprise most people to learn that insects, such as crickets and katydids, are not the only arthropods that create sounds, as several species of spider also produce sounds to facilitate courtship.
Insect and spider songs are produced when insects and spiders rub certain body parts together. This process is known as “stridulation.” At the moment, scientists have documented 26 spider families that produce sounds. While most sounds are produced to attract females, sometimes spiders will produce sounds to scare away predators. Male spiders belonging to the Saitis michaelseni species produce sounds that can be heard by humans from distances of several meters. During courtship male spiders stridulate on dead leaves. When this occurs the male is located on one side of a leaf while the female is located on the other side. Courtship occurs in three stages. Stridulation occurs during the first two stages. During the third stage, the male makes physical contact with the female and it alternates between two different types of sound production. One of these sounds is stridulatory while the other is “percussive.” Percussive sounds are not produced by the rubbing together of body parts; instead percussive sounds are produced when insects or spiders repeatedly strike the ground. The male Saitis michaelseni creates percussive sounds by using its first pair of legs to strike the ground. The stridulatory sounds produced by males of this species occur when thick hairs located on the anterior abdomen rub against the hard dorsal region of the spider’s exoskeleton. According to researchers the Saitis michaelseni species is the first type of salticid spider that is capable of producing stridulatory sounds.
Do you believe that you have heard a spider produce sounds in the past?