You may have felt that the only reason you kept up with your spiders was to look after your own health.
But is it really that simple?
Read moreRead moreA new study from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) shows that spiders are not the only species to fear us, and in fact are more likely to do so if we are around them.
The study, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, examined how spiders in a laboratory interacted with one another and what the animals thought about people.
They found that spiders were more likely than their wild counterparts to seek out people and make social contact if they were near people.
The researchers found that even though spiders are known for their territoriality, they were more willing to cooperate with humans when they knew someone was there to help.
The team also found that when the spiders were in their own territory, they would often look for food, and they would even eat it if they thought it would benefit them.
This was because when they thought the food was safe, they preferred to be near people and not risk being eaten.
The results suggest that spiders’ fear of humans is not a response to us, but rather a response of the spider to our presence in the area.
This means spiders have evolved to adapt to social situations, and the results suggest the spiders are better able to adapt when humans are nearby.
While they did not show any changes in the behaviour of the spiders, the researchers suggested that spiders may be more likely in the presence of people, because they are more inclined to avoid humans if they think they can help them.
“Spiders have evolved social strategies that encourage individuals to help each other,” said lead researcher Dr Sarah Burdick.
“We think spiders may therefore benefit from being around people, as they have an increased ability to protect themselves and their prey, which they might be more reluctant to risk eating.”
For the study, the team looked at two different populations of spiders, one of which lived in the lab and one of a wild population.
In the wild, spiders are often attracted to food and have a high attraction to people.
In a lab setting, the spiders used to have a greater propensity to seek people and interact with them, which suggests they are better at learning how to socialise.
However, after a period of time, they began to become more aggressive and avoid people when they had a close friend nearby.
The group of spiders in the laboratory were found to be more willing and able to cooperate in a situation with a person, but this did not change when they were in the wild.
“In this case, spiders evolved a social strategy to avoid a human presence when in the same area as humans,” Dr Burdicks said.
“The spiders did not need to be in a very close proximity to humans, and we have found that these spiders are more willing than wild spiders to assist humans when the opportunity presents itself.”
The study shows that even when a species has evolved to a new and unique behaviour, it still is capable of adapting to new situations.
This is a promising start to understanding why some animals are able to evolve new behaviours, while others do not.
“It is also very encouraging that there is a clear link between a species’ social behaviour and its ability to adapt,” Dr Peter Sperry, from the UCL Institute of Zoology, said.
“It is not only spiders that are able at adapting to different social environments, but also invertebrates and other animals.”
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