Many spiders make their homes in or near water

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Living in a bubble

Although we may think of spiders as living only on land, almost one-fifth have homes in or near water.

Out of 120 spider families, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences and William Paterson University found that members of 21 spider families preferred water. Most are distant cousins, meaning they don’t share a lot of similar features.

Some of the water-loving spiders have really cool behaviors. For example, the Maningrida diving tarantulas of Australia have hairs that repel water and keep their four lungs dry. When it rains really hard the tarantulas hide in waterproof holes. If the hole is flooded they can use air bubbles to breathe underwater.

Fishing spiders use ripples on the water to signal that a fish is nearby. The salt flat spider lives in freshwater between pools in the Salton Sea. The only true water spider — the diving bell spider of Europe and Asia — spins a web underwater that it blows up like a balloon by dragging air bubbles down from the surface.

Some spiders’ attraction to water shouldn’t be surprising considering that, like many species, they originally lived in the water before adapting to live on land.

All spiders have eight legs and are members of a class of animals called Arachnida, which includes animals with jointed legs and no backbones. The name Arachnida comes from the Greek myth about a woman, named Arachne, who was a very good weaver. She was turned into a spider by the goddess Athena, who was jealous of Arachne’s weaving skills.

— Brett French,

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