How Long Can Spiders Live Without Food?

Why Can Spiders Live So Long Without Food?

First of, spiders are cold blooded, or exothermic creatures. In cold blooded animals, body size is a good indicator of their metabolism. So, a small spider would have a slower metabolism than a large ball python, for example.

This is especially true for spiders, as they have a metabolism that’s about 50% the speed of other creatures around their size.

Additionally, spiders are carnivorous, so they get a lot more energy from their food than an herbivore would.

Then, you need to look at the daily activities of most spiders. Many of them are sedentary ambush predators that rarely move throughout the day. This requires the use of very little energy.

Many spiders spin webs, which is a process that consumes a lot of energy, but many spiders simply eat their webs and use that protein to build a new one.

So, this combination of a very slow metabolism, calm and simple lifestyle, and low-effort hunting strategies allows spiders to live a very long time without eating any food.

Tarantulas Without Food: An Incredible Outlier

How Long Can Spiders Live Without Food?

While small, common house spiders may live for about 2-4 months without food, tarantulas are able to live for much, much longer.

In fact, tarantula owners commonly report that their tarantulas haven’t eaten for 6 months to 2 years! This isn’t because of a lack of food, either — they just choose not to eat.

It’s difficult to say why exactly tarantulas have this strange behavior. Sometimes it’s because they’re undergoing a lengthy molt, and other times it’s because they’re “anxious”… But most of the time it’s just what they do.

Some types of tarantulas are actually known to go on very long hunger strikes, such as Grammostola rosea.

The tarantulas that go the longest without food tend to be more docile and inactive, so they fit the inactivity theory well.

Additionally, a tarantula’s lifespan is extremely long, demonstrating the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

How Long Can They Live Without Water?

How Long Can Spiders Live Without Food?

Like all living creatures, spiders need water to live. However, their relationship with water is much different from you and I, so their water requirements are also much different.

Spiders can technically live a very long time without drinking water. This is because while spiders drink water, they don’t do it very frequently.

Instead, spiders get their water through their food and through their environment. A spider in a humid environment with a healthy diet will almost never need to drink water.

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However, this means that a spider typically can’t survive more than a few days in a warm, dry environment without food.

We always hang a spare towel over the side of the bath for any spiders that have fallen in. They walk around the bath and must eventually find it and then they are up and away (thank goodness as I don’t want to meet any!)
Wendy (Wales)

I had a spider couple in my bathtub a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t notice them until the water had already begun splashing into the tub: I learned that spiders can swim.

Unfortunately, they had problems climbing up the sides of the tube. I drained the tub of water; put a piece of cardboard where the spiders could climb on it; waited until both were onboard; and carried the cardboard and spiders outside where they belonged.

Blessed be all sentient beings!

I have a shower but no bath, however, that doesn’t stop the spiders. I once had a dirty big huntsman in the shower with me. I didn’t see her at first and when I did. well, picture me naked, dripping water and screaming my head off!

Spiders (our British varieties at least) are harmless beasties so there is no need to scream at them.

You could swill them gently down the plughole. Usually, like nick, I’d entice them onto some paper and then carry them to an open window and put them out. Sometimes, if already naked and shower-ready I’d pick one gently up by one of its antenna and pop it in the hand-basin out of the way while I showered.


How Long Can Spiders Live Without Food?

Just solely in terms of not having food (ignoring the importance of O2 that Ramkryp has pointed out), spiders don’t necessarily have to feed on a daily basis anyway. It’s not the same species of spider as you ask about in your question, but consider:

The metabolic and water evaporation strategies in spiders may be part of a set of physiological adaptations to tolerate low or unpredictable food availability, buffering spiders against environmental fluctuations such as those of the high mountains of the central Andes. The aim of this study is to analyze experimentally the variations in metabolic rate and the rate of evaporative water with food and/or water restriction in a high mountain mygalomorph spider population (Paraphysa sp.). We found that the low metabolism of this spider was not affected by water restriction, but its metabolism was depressed after 3 weeks of food deprivation.

The biochemical makeup of the spider may be radically different than most other animals, and breaking down energy stores must take place over a longer timecourse.

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To answer the first part of your question: it is extremely unlikely that the spider will die or be weakened after just one day.

Wolf spiders (Lycosids) are all predators. Due to variations in prey populations, and low efficiency of consumption at higher trophic levels, they are subject to inconsistent and unpredictable food supply (Greenstone and Bennett, 1980). They are very well adapted to this lifestyle and consequently, long periods of starvation often yield no behavioural changes (Persons, 1999). It is highly unlikely that the spider will die after just one day: Anderson, (1974) observed no changes in activity after starving Lycosa lenta (a species of wolf spider) for 30 days; and Tanaka and Ito, (1982) observed Pardosa astrigera (another species of wolf spider) living for up to 54 days of starvation. Age and sex of the spider are more likely to affect its behaviour and performance than food or oxygen availability (Persons, 1999).

As for oxygen consumption, Greenstone and Bennett, (1980) measure an oxygen consumption of 100µL/hr for wolf spiders. Assuming that your cup is of the size of the unit of volume of the same name, the cup (

0.237L), a small calculation (see figure) shows that there will be enough oxygen for the spider to survive for over 98 days. The oxygen concentration within the cup may decrease as it is used by the spider, however this is likely to have a minimal effect as a cup placed on a surface is unlikely to be hermetically sealed.

In short, oxygen availability is unlikely to have an effect on the spider before other limitations (such as food) are reached. However neither of these effects are likely to cause behavioural changes during the first month.

How Long can Brown Recluse Spiders go without food?
They can go very long periods without food or water. Specimens housed in a 12x17x6 cm plastic boxes have lived up to ten months without food or water and in 8 oz. airtight plastic containers six months without food, water, or air (Sandidge).

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Where Are Brown Recluses in America?
Here is a map showing where brown recluses can most commonly be found in America.

I have heard that if I take away their food source they will go away, is that true?
No, again research has shown that Brown Recluse Spiders have a clear preference for dead prey over live prey. They will actively feed on fresh killed prey, prey killed several months prior, prey killed with insecticides, and prey killed days before by other Recluse Spiders. (Sandidge)

Are the pesticides and other materials you use safe?
Pesticides are by definition poisonous. Our training, certifications, use of alternative and natural treatments, and expertise are used to provide the safest and most effective approach to solving each pest problem. Sunflower Pest practices IPM (Integrated Pest Management), an approach focusing on reduced pesticide use and increased prevention, habitat alteration and other non-chemical methods to control pests, which translates into fewer and less toxic pesticides, less potential for chemical exposure, and an unapproachable level of safety and security for your families, pets, friends and all others that may enter your home. Do pesticides cause cancer? No. None of the currently registered pesticides have carcinogenic effects. Testing performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) years prior to the release of each pesticide provide a high level of safety.

How long does each pest control treatment last?
Treatment longevity is a combination of the particular pest in question, products used, environmental conditions, and the particular circumstances of each pest issue.

I am comparing a do-it-yourself pest project versus hiring a professional, why should I hire you?
There are a few good reasons to hire a professional. Do-it-yourself pest control is a risk. A professional can identify a particular species of pest and provide a directed approach for control. Mis-identification and misdirected control only serve as a waste of time and money. Expertise may also help solve a pest control issue without pesticides. In addition, most if not all pest control companies offer a guarantee and will return to solve the problem. This guarantee provides a more effective and economical approach.

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