He Chose...Poorly.

Q: Hey DougO. I meant to ask this an eon ago, but a baby got in the way. Now I finally have time to address real issues. Thus: I was sitting in my bathroom one day, um, relaxing, and happened to notice a tiny little spider had spun it's web in the bottom corner behind the door. It was just sitting there, waiting. So it occurred to me, how patient are spiders? I mean, if real estate is all about location, location, location, then this little guy just bought a money-pit in downtown Beirut. No way was he ever going to catch anything there to feed on. So how long will a spider wait for prey before it packs up and moves? Will it just sit there and die?

A: You would be surprised how little people seem to worry about spiders starving to death.  Most research into that sort of thing seems to have been done by exterminators, who would rather not tell you how it can be accomplished if they can charge you for it instead.

I have managed to dredge up some pertinant information, though.  First, spiders are always a little thirsty, so much so that scientists have been able to attract them with syringes full of liquid.  It's at that point that they feed them LSD or THC, then film the webs thay make and laugh at them, subsequently putting the results up on YouTube.  Take into account that spiders are liquivores, living on the inside juices of their prey, and you can see how they are consequently also hungry all the time.  This is good conditioning for a predator, but bad for developing patience.

Complicating this problem for the spider is that most species of spider that build webs are entirely dependent on the web for food and information about its surroundings.  They are nearly blind, and use the vibrations of the web itself to read air currents and interpret sounds.  Their only option, therefore, is to build a web in a likely spot for smaller company and hope.  It doesn't hurt their chances to build where it is dark and slightly damp, too, so that they dry out slower.

Some exterminators have mentioned (reluctantly) that wrecking a spider's web and then hampering its attempts to repair or rebuild it will eventually cause the spider to starve.  But there wasn't much information on how long that might take.  Given that a Black Widow can live up to five years, and a Bird-Eating spider maybe 15 years, it's hard to guess what their staying power is, as opposed to, say, flies, who might die in a day or two under the best conditions.  

I would propose an experiment.  Search around for a spider that seems to be successful, then observe it over a period of time and see how many bugs it seems to be consuming per day.  That should give you a round figure, per ounce of spider.  Then, if your bathroom spider does go to that Big Creepy House in the Sky, feed it to the successful spider.