Are There Spiders in Antarctica?

Are There Spiders in Antarctica?

Antarctica is a vast continent that is mostly unexplored. There are research locations throughout the continent where people from various countries go to study the area, but it has no natural human inhabitants. The climate is freezing cold all year, even in the summer, making it difficult for many species to live there.

The fact that few species live in Antarctica got me thinking, do spiders live in Antarctica?

Antarctica is the only continent in the world where spiders don’t live. The temperatures on the continent are too cold for spiders to live. Even if the spiders could live in the freezing temperatures, their natural food source, cockroaches, moths, and other insects, are not found here.

Therefore, they would starve. Antarctica is home to sea spiders, though, and these creatures thrive in the cold waters. So, if you’re terrified of spiders, you won’t need to worry about them in the south pole.

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I Thought Spiders Could Handle The Cold?

One of the main reasons you won’t find spiders in Antarctica is because of the climate. If you know anything about spiders, they’re resilient and can adapt to cold temperatures really well. Many species of spiders can perform what is known as cold hardening.

This process happens when temperatures drop, and they produce a chemical in their tiny bodies that acts like anti-freeze. Essentially, this lowers the freezing point of the fluids in their body so they can survive temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

So technically, yes. Spiders can withstand some freezing temperatures but only to a certain point. But Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. The climate in Antarctica is not something spiders were built to handle, which is why you won’t find any living there.

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Are There Spiders in Antarctica?
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How Cold Is Antarctica?

During the summer months in Antarctica, the temperatures during the daytime can reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Just because they can reach this high doesn’t mean it’s 60 degrees throughout the continent. Some portions will remain much colder, even during the summer. At night, the temperatures still fall to below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and more often than not, into the negatives.

Winter is especially brutal in Antarctica. Daytime temperatures average around -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and at nighttime, they can get close to -100 degrees.

Even though spiders can perform cold hardening and survive temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit, they still can’t live here. They could possibly survive during the day hours of summer, but the minute the sun sets, they would freeze to death.

What Are Sea Spiders?

Sea spiders are found all around the world’s oceans. In most waters, these creatures don’t get any bigger than the size of a pencil eraser. In the cold waters of Antarctica, these sea spiders can grow to the size of dinner plates.

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Are Sea Spiders and Land Spiders Related?

They both have the word “spider” in their name, but are these species related? A traditional spider is also known as an arachnid, whereas a sea spider is known as a pycnogonid. Both of these creatures come from a family of arthropods, meaning that they are related. Just like their land counterparts, sea spiders have eight legs as well.

One difference between a land spider and a sea spider, other than where they live, is that land spiders have bodies. Sea spiders are almost entirely legs. They do technically have a body but it’s very small compared to their land cousins.

Are There Any Native Insects In Antarctica?

With such freezing temperatures, it’s hard to imagine any insects being able to survive in Antarctica. But, there is one insect that calls the south pole home. Antarctic midges are the only insects that can survive naturally there.

Like spiders, they rely on cold hardening to prevent their bodily fluids from freezing when the temperature drops. Even with this ability, they still spend nine out of twelve months of the year frozen solid.

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Do People Live in Antarctica?

There are no indigenous populations in Antarctica, and as far as we know, there never was. While this continent has never had a native population, there are research stations throughout the landmass with inhabitants throughout the year.

The time of year when Antarctica has the highest population is during the summer. Summer runs from October to April in the southern hemisphere. Roughly 5,000 scientists and workers live on the landmass during this time, while close to 50,000 tourists come to visit. During the winter, the population drastically drops.

Tourists don’t come often, if at all, and the scientists left are closer to 1,000.

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How Many Countries Have Research Stations on Antarctica?

There are 50 active research stations on Antarctica that are represented by the 32 countries that perform research there. While there are 32 countries with research stations, there are 40 countries that have signed the Antarctic Treaty.

The first country to open a research station on the continent was Argentina in 1904. The United States was the following country to open a research station there in 1929, followed by the United Kingdom in 1944. The most recent country to begin researching in Antarctica is Belarus. They opened a research station in 2007.

Could a Spider Travel Unknowingly to Antarctica?

Could a spider hitch a ride on a scientist’s luggage as they head for the south pole? Well, most things are possible, so this is a possibility. Although it’s highly unlikely that the spider will stay put in the luggage throughout the long journey to get there. Even if the spider does survive the trip, the minute it reaches the cold air on the continent, it will surely die.

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How Big is Antarctica?

Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent on the planet. It’s roughly 5.5 million square miles in size. Five and a half million may sound huge, but the largest continent, Asia, is over 17 million square miles in size. To put that into perspective, you could fit almost two of Australia or two of Europe on the continent.

If you were to remove Canada from North America, the United States and Mexico would be the closest in size to Antarctica.

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.