Can Spiders Die from Falling? Spiders Surviving Terminal Velocity

Spiders aren’t the only arachnids that can survive a fall from great heights, but they do have an advantage over other species. They are able to move their legs and use them as parachutes to slow down their descent. The spider’s body will be slowed by air resistance until it reaches the point where they reach the ground.

I was just wondering if a spider could survive the fall of terminal velocity, or would it be crushed by the impact? We’ll learn all that and more in today’s blog post on spiders surviving terminal velocity. 

A small spider jumping off a building would experience less air resistance than a large one jumping from ground level because the force of gravity pulling down on the spider’s body is greater.

Can spiders survive terminal velocity?

A large spider’s terminal velocity can kill them because the air resistance is very little against their size and weight.

What makes this even worse is if the impact on the ground is against a hard surface like tile, concrete, or hardwood versus soft surfaces like grass, cloth, or bedding.

However, when the scenario is flipped to a small spider, without a doubt, they can survive terminal velocity because of how relatively weightless they are.

small spider falling mid air 02102022

How fast do spiders fall?

Spiders can fall at a speed of less than 15 kph. However, the speed at which spiders fall is slowed when the air resistance increases due to them stretching out their limbs which in turn slows the descent.

Some folks think that when the spider extends its legs to make a mighty leap, this will accelerate the fall. 

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth because when a spider pressurizes its leg joints while contracting its flexor muscles to launch off into the open, this will only accelerate the jump but not how fast they fall.

Can spiders fall to their death?

Yes, a mid-size to large spider can fall to its death. When a live spider falls towards any hard surface like tile or concrete between an average of 10-15 feet, it can die because the impact when it hits the ground can rupture its abdomen.

However, this won’t be the case for spiders falling onto soft surfaces like grass, hay, or perhaps bedding because the impact will be absorbed by the soft area in which it lands. 

Can spiders survive a fall?

A mid-sized spider can survive a fall when you factor in its exoskeletons, however, if the spider was in the process of molting at the time it fell, it can result in a few broken limbs.

Because the process of molting involves the creature shedding its old shell, it is very likely that a fall can impact the spider during this time.

Even though a spider’s outer layer offers support and protection, a large spider can still be dazed or stunted after the fall.

Do spiders feel pain when they fall?

Spiders don’t have pain receptors in the way that vertebrates do. They don’t feel pain but may feel an irritation coming from the affected area.

They cannot, however, feel pain because they have no emotions.

However, there are studies that found that insects can experience pain through a process called nociception.

After experiments were conducted, researchers found that animals that have been injured badly in the past become hypersensitive and try to protect themselves by sensing and avoiding danger.

In short, even after an injury heals, pain persists in the short lives of insects through nociception.

Do spiders always land on their legs?

Considering the fact that spiders have 8 legs (Pedipalps), they will always land on their pedipalps after falling.

Do spiders take fall damage?

No, small spiders don’t take fall damage but large spiders won’t be able to withstand the impact of their terminal velocity.

In the air, a small object floats more when there is an equal balance of air resistance against it.

This essentially means that air resistance increases a small object’s floatability and even though some spiders are small, they can fall from great heights without suffering any fall damage.

Can spiders die falling out of a tree?

If a spider falls or leaps off a tree, it already has built-in webbing attached to its body.

Spinning a continuous thread of webbing is one way for most spider species to stay attached to their webs to prevent them from falling.

Just like climbers use karabiner to attach themselves to ropes, the webs of some spider species are held together by little arrays of sticky material called “adhesive silks.”

What kind of injuries do spiders get from falling out of trees?

A spider can sustain injuries like broken limbs or paralysis if its web gets loose and doesn’t gain its footing before falling to the ground.

Can a small spider die from falling?

Smaller spiders won’t die when they fall because they can float down slowly and land without harm due to their terminal velocity being so slow.

Can jumping spiders die from falling?

A common house spider like the jumping spider won’t die from falling because it uses a silk-like thread to anchor itself before jumping.

In addition, the spider will be able to use its silk to catch onto a branch or another object.

Basically, they jump out of their web to catch prey and if they miss, they will drop back down to the ground but they don’t take fall damage. Instead, the spider will then try again until it catches its prey or gets weary.

Interested in learning more about what animals survive terminal velocity? Check out that article for more information.

Flexbooks – Acceleration Due to Gravity
Physics Classroom – Free Fall & Air Resistance
Science Advances – Nerve injury drives a heightened state of vigilance and neuropathic sensitization in Drosophila

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