Why spiders are so hairy

HAIRY CRITTERS: A golden orb weaver, spiders lack ears and noses, they cannot hear or smell as we do.

HAIRY CRITTERS: A golden orb weaver, spiders lack ears and noses, they cannot hear or smell as we do.

Personal grooming is such an individual thing. Smooth healthy skin, clean white teeth, soft furry legs.

Abundantly hairy legs aren't a fashion standard but for those critters particularly blessed in that department they are essential to a comfortable life.

Spiders are all hairy to some degree. From the shiny black legs of the Mouse Spider to the heavily furred Huntsman and the spiky legged Green Jumping Spider, all are somewhat fluffy.

Why are spiders hairier than a Bon Jovi fan late on a Saturday night? Well, there are plenty of answers to that question.

Like many animals, spiders often use colourful hair to attract mates or to deter competitors but spider hair has a range of functions.

Spiders lack ears and noses, they cannot hear or smell as we do. Instead they have these amazing structures called trichobothria.

These tiny, vertical, super sensitive hairs are able to feel the smallest air movements including those made by noises.

An elderly huntsman.

An elderly huntsman.

A spiders trichobothria are so sensitive they can filter out the vibrations made by background noise and focus in on the disturbance in the air caused by an approaching fly. A spider doesn't hear a meal approaching, it feels it.

Spider mouthparts aren't used for tasting tucker. Instead they use chemically sensitive, hollow-tipped hairs on end of their limbs and on their mouthparts.

These are used to sense chemicals associated with different food items and to recognise the difference between meals and mates.

Most spiders have thick hairs, or spines, on their legs. These are handy when dinner approaches as they help to capture and hold onto prey.

The male spider also uses them to hold his lady close at those most romantic of times. Spiders that climb have dense tufts of hair on their feet that help them cling to vertical surfaces and hinged, touch-sensitive leg hair help spiders navigate terrain. Some of these hairs even keep the spider aware of the position of its own limbs, a handy thing when you have so many.

While spiders can look a bit freaky their beautifully designed bodies make them fierce predators.

This story Ever wondered why spiders are so hairy? first appeared on Katherine Times.