Molting or shedding the skin is common in spiders. A spider may molt a couple of times during its lifetime. As a spider grows, it sheds its old skin or exoskeleton. It is a hard covering made with chitin that protects their internal organs and flexibly uses their legs.
In the case of spiders, they have a flexible exoskeleton that is flexible and allows them to move or walk in almost every direction. However, since this exoskeleton does not grow, a spider must molt to make way for a new and bigger exoskeleton.
Examining a spider during molting can be rewarding as it allows you to understand how they grow.
So, how often do spiders molt? A young spider may molt multiple times. In general, a spider can molt at least once within a trimester. Some young spiders may even molt once per month. The young spiders, especially Tarantulas, grow faster. Hence, it will molt faster with a high frequency. As they grow older, the frequency will become slower. Usually, adult spiders molt once or twice per year.
Well, the molting frequency is different in different species of spiders. In general, spiders will molt as soon as they start growing. It stops molting as it reaches adulthood. The frequency of molting usually slows down as spiders grow.
Molting is also dependent on the gender of the spider. Female spiders usually molt very often. They may even continue to molt after reaching adulthood. On the other hand, male spiders usually do not molt after reaching adulthood. It is because the genitals of a male are sensitive and fragile. A spider cannot pull its male sexual organs through the old exoskeleton at the right time. Hence, often the new exoskeleton hardens, and the spider may get stuck. This causes the spiders a lot of injuries, and males often die during this procedure. Hence, males usually do not molt after becoming an adult.
Since female spiders give birth and have complicated physiological functions, they need their body to grow. Hence, they may even molt as long as they live. Some females also molt before or after mating or giving birth.
How does a spider molt?
Molting is a long process, As a spider may shed its skin in only 30 minutes, but the preparation and post-molting procedure is long. After molting, a spider’s skin exoskeleton remains soft and fragile. It may require seven to ten days for the exoskeleton to become hard and good as the old one.
Spiders usually eat less and become less active while preparing for molting. In addition, some spiders like Tarantulas usually grow a darker or bald spot before molting.
A spider’s body starts to secrete hormones before the molting procedure. Then the spider releases molting fluid to differentiate the old and new exoskeleton. A spider usually lies on its back during molting and patiently waits to shed the skin.
Molting is essential for a spider to grow and live a healthy lifestyle. After shedding its old skin, a spider will get a better exoskeleton that offers it more room for its growing organs. As a result, young spiders usually molt frequently. On the other hand, male spiders stop molting after they become adults.