How Do Spiders Stick To Walls?


Do you ever stop to wonder how a spider can manage to hang perfectly still on the wall? How is it possible for them to be suspended high above the ground, with nothing anchoring them down, and yet remain in one spot without any sign of struggling?

Well, as it turns out, spiders have an interesting biological trait that allows them to do this, something called setules. But, what exactly are setules you ask? and how do they let spiders stick to walls? Let’s find out…

How Do Spiders Stick To Walls?

The key to understanding how spiders stick to walls lies in the unique structures that cover their legs. You see, each spider leg is adorned with thousands of tiny hairs, which in turn are covered in even smaller hairs called “setules.”

It’s these setules, with their distinctive triangular tips, that enable spiders to defy gravity and scale vertical surfaces with ease.

The Role Of Setules

Each spider has more than 620,000 setules covering its legs. But, what makes these microscopic hairs so special is their unique triangular shape, which vastly increases the surface area available for contact with surfaces.

This means the increased surface area allows the spider to generate stronger adhesive forces when it comes into contact with a surface. The setules’ triangular tips also help the spider navigate uneven textures on the wall.

This is because the flexibility and small size of setules enable the spider to conform to the irregularities of various surfaces, such as walls, or in some cases, even glass, maximizing contact and adhesion.

Capillary Adhesion

In addition to the shape and flexibility of their setules, spiders also rely on a phenomenon known as capillary adhesion to help them stick to surfaces.

Capillary adhesion occurs when a thin film of liquid, such as water or oil, forms between two surfaces, creating an attractive force that holds them together.

Spiders take advantage of this principle by secreting a small amount of liquid through their setules, enhancing their ability to grip onto surfaces.

Does The Same Method Apply To Ceilings?

So at this point, you might be wondering, does the same apply when you see a spider stuck on the ceiling, completely defying the laws of gravity? Yes, the same method does apply when you see a spider on the ceiling!

The unique structure and function of their setules, combined with capillary adhesion, enable spiders to maintain a strong grip on the surface regardless of their orientation. When a spider is on the ceiling, it faces the challenge of overcoming gravitational forces that pull it downward.

However, the setules, along with the adhesive forces generated by capillary adhesion, allow the spider to counteract gravity and remain securely attached to the ceiling.

This extraordinary ability not only allows spiders to navigate their environment with ease but also provides them with a strategic advantage when hunting prey or evading predators.

By being able to cling to a wide variety of surfaces, including ceilings, spiders can access hard-to-reach areas and exploit their surroundings to their benefit.

Spider stuck to the wall

Can All Spiders Stick To Walls?

No, not all spiders can stick to walls. One of the primary reasons for this is their weight and size. Larger, heavier spiders, such as tarantulas and some wolf spiders, are not as adept at climbing walls or ceilings as their smaller counterparts.

Their increased body mass makes it more challenging for them to counteract gravity using the adhesive forces generated by setae and setules.

These ground-dwelling spiders are better suited for terrestrial environments, relying on their strength, speed, and stealth to hunt prey and navigate their surroundings.

Moreover, these larger spiders may not have the same specialized setae and setules found in smaller, agile spiders like jumping spiders or orb-weavers. As a result, their ability to generate sufficient adhesive forces to cling to surfaces is limited.

Types Of Spiders That Can Often Be Seen Climbing On Walls

Several types of spiders are commonly seen sticking to walls, utilizing their adhesive abilities to navigate their environment and hunt for prey. Some of these spider species include:

  • Jumping spiders (Salticidae): Known for their excellent vision and agility, jumping spiders often climb walls and other vertical surfaces while hunting for prey or exploring their surroundings. They rely on their specialized setae and setules to adhere to surfaces.
  • Cellar spiders (Pholcidae): Also known as daddy-long-legs or vibrating spiders, cellar spiders are frequently found hanging out on walls and ceilings in dark, damp areas like basements and cellars. They build loose, irregular webs and use their long, slender legs to move around.
  • House spiders (Tegenaria domestica): These common spiders, often found in human-made structures, are known to build their funnel-shaped webs in corners of walls, window frames, and other sheltered areas. They can frequently be seen moving along walls and ceilings.
  • Orb-weaver spiders (Araneidae): Orb-weavers are known for their intricate, wheel-shaped webs. They often stick to walls, tree trunks, and other surfaces to construct their webs in strategic locations to catch flying insects and other prey.

These are just a few examples of spider species that can often be seen sticking to walls. It’s essential to note that individual spiders within a species may exhibit different behaviors, and not all spiders of a particular species may be found on walls.

How Often Do Spiders Stick To Walls?

The frequency with which spiders stick to walls depends on the species, their habitat, and of course, their behavior. Some spiders spend more time on walls and ceilings than others, while some rarely climb vertical surfaces.

Web-building spiders, often stick to walls to construct their intricate webs to catch prey. As a result, they may frequently climb walls to inspect or repair their webs or to move between different locations.

Jumping spiders, in particular, are known for their climbing abilities, and will use these surfaces to hunt for prey, escape predators, or explore their environment.

Advantages When Sticking To Walls

Sticking to walls offers several advantages for spiders, allowing them to effectively navigate their environment, hunt prey, and evade potential threats. Some key benefits of this ability include:

  • Expanded Habitat Range: The ability to cling to walls and ceilings enables spiders to occupy a diverse range of habitats, including tree trunks, rock faces, and human-made structures. This expanded habitat range increases the variety of available food sources and shelter options.
  • Predation And Escape: Spiders can use their adhesive abilities to swiftly move across walls and ceilings to pursue prey or escape predators. By accessing vertical surfaces, they can exploit areas that are difficult for some predators to reach, giving them a better chance of survival.
  • Web Construction: Many spider species construct intricate webs to catch prey. Sticking to walls and other surfaces allows them to build these webs in strategic locations, where they can efficiently intercept flying insects and other potential prey.
  • Camouflage And Ambush: Climbing walls and ceilings can provide spiders with additional opportunities for camouflage and ambush hunting. For example, certain species are known for their ability to blend in with their environment, allowing them to wait patiently for their prey.
  • Energy Conservation: By sticking to walls, spiders can also conserve energy by avoiding the need to constantly fight against gravity. They can remain motionless for extended periods while waiting for prey or resting, using minimal energy.


So hopefully this post has answered the question of how spiders stick to walls! If you found this article helpful feel free to check some more articles on this site, or if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

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