Spiders can hear
Fact

Spiders can "hear" (sense vibrations) through tiny hairs on their bodies.

Can Spiders Hear? How Do Spiders Hear?

Although the specifics may be different for different siders, spiders “hear” (sense vibrations) through hairs and tiny slits distributed over their body. Spiders can generally use this sensory skill to detect what type of prey falls in their web (detecting vibrations in the web to better understand their prey), but some spiders like the jumping spider have been shown to actually hear sounds in the air (allowing them to, for instance, hear an incoming wasp).[1][2]

This may seem strange, but it isn’t much different than how humans hear. As humans we have tiny hair-cells in our ears which help us pick up sound waves (vibrations in air molecules). The hair-cells then work with our ear drums and other parts of our complex auditory system to translate those vibrations into sensory data that can be processed in the auditory centers of our brain.

A spider works much the same way, except they don’t have ear drums, have little hairs covering most of their bodies, and process vibrations using their unique sensory system.

TIP: Learn more about how the senses work.

Even without ears, jumping spiders can hear you. Spiders have excellent eyesight and can detect vibrations, but despite their lack of ear drums some spiders can actually “hear” too. In the jumping spider specifically, it has been shown that the auditory areas of a jumping spiders brain can receive signals from its tiny hairs. So it isn’t just the tactical sensing of vibrations in solid objects they are picking up on, they are actually processing auditory data from vibrations in air molecules.

Can All Spiders Hear This Way?

All spiders can sense vibrations, but it is currently unknown if all spiders can “hear” vibrations in the air and processes that data in auditory centers of the brain.

According to a 2016 study, the jumping spider (which is fairly hairy, see the image above) can sense sounds up to 3 meters away through the air.

It is possible other spiders rely more on direct tactioception (sensing vibrations through direct contact with objects like their webbing).

Still, if the jumping spider can hear you from across the room via their hair, it only makes sense that other spiders can to some extent too.[3]

Learn more about “spider senses” from the Smithsonian.

Unlike Other Spiders, Jumping Spiders Can Hear.

FACT: As noted in the video above, spiders cannot hear like humans do. They do not have eardrums and instead use the hair on their legs to feel vibrations. However, Jumping spiders seem to be able to hear not only through vibrations in their webs or solid surfaces, they also  have the capability of hearing sounds through the air up to 3 meters away from themselves. Scientists learned this by watching a jumping spider’s brain use auditory nerve cells. A pretty impressive finding when we consider jumping spiders brains are about the same size a a poppy seed.[4]

Do Spiders Have Ears? Spiders don’t have ears, but they can “hear”. They use the little hairs over their bodies to detect vibrations (which is essentially “hearing”). As this video shows, Spiders just like most other beings find the saxophone unsettling (joke). What it shows is that the spider is at least “hearing” through its web (if not hearing the saxophone directly) as the saxophone is vibrating the air, which is vibrating the web, and we can see the spider reacting.



Conclusion

If we define hearing loosely, then all spiders can hear via the hairs on their bodies. If we define hearing as processing auditory data via vibrations in air molecules, then we can say we know for sure at least the jumping spider can hear. If we are very strict and say hearing only occurs when an ear drum is used to process auditory data, then an argument can be made that spiders can’t hear. All that said, one can easily make the claim “spiders can hear” and be correct.


Citations

  1. Airborne Acoustic Perception by a Jumping Spider
  2. “spider senses” from the Smithsonian
  3. That jumping spider can hear you from across the room
  4. A Spider Across The Room Can ‘Hear’ You, Study Finds


"Spiders Hear Through Hairs on their Body" is tagged with: Senses, Sound


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