In ponds, small calm lakes, sluggish streams, you can see a drop of mercury scurrying up and down, from under the water to the surface of the reservoir. On closer examination, it turns out that vertical movements are performed by a small spider, and a drop of mercury is its silvery belly.
The diving bell was the first step on a man's path to the underwater world with special equipment. This structure was the prototype of the diver's spacesuit. The oldest mentions of him date back to 1531. But millennia earlier, the argironet spider solved the problem of staying under water in a similar way.
Amazing house of the silver spider
The silver color of the spider is an optical illusion. The color of the argironet is common for most spiders - a black cephalothorax and a brown abdomen covered with many hairs. It is these hairs, lubricated with a special secret, that trap air when they rise to the surface of the reservoir. Additionally, at the tip of the abdomen, a tiny air bubble is transported, "caught" with the help of arachnoid warts.
It is a tiny resemblance of a man-made diving bell. A nest attached to the stems of underwater plants with cobwebs and woven from them, reaching the size of a hazelnut, has a supply of air under the dome. An amazing spider, tirelessly diving for the next portion of silvery bubbles, is freed from air reserves and can be under water in its house for some time.
An amazing insect weaves a web of four types - for the nest-bell, the threads holding the nest, trapping nets and for the egg cocoon. Females build their nests with more diligence than males.
Features of the daily life of the Argyronets
The underwater environment provides the silversmiths with a plentiful table; small aquatic inhabitants become the prey of agile predators. Sometimes they fall into the clutches of a hunting spider, sometimes they get entangled in the threads of the web. The well-fed argironet hangs its prey under the dome of the nest, wrapping it in a cocoon, counting on bad days.
Here, under water, spider offspring are hatched. After laying eggs, the spider places them in an air-filled cocoon in or near the nest, and guards the precious clutch. The male spider, which took part in the fertilization of a friend, does not comprehend the fate of being eaten by the female - the final characteristic of the mating traditions of most arachnids. He continues to live nearby, in the same underwater bell, with the same eating habits, with the same duties of air delivery.
Specialists-arachnologists believe that among the reasons for rejecting cannibalism is the size of the male. Argyronets are the only species of spiders with a male that is larger than the female - 1, 5 and 1, 2 cm, respectively. By the way, larger males have smaller nests.
The silver spider, an inhabitant of European waters, has recently been found to have its closest relative in Japan. As it turned out, the Japanese argironet, which was previously considered a complete analogue of the European one, has much larger organs that perform reproductive functions.