Watch a spider molt

Spider molting from Karli Larson on Vimeo.

Spiders don't have an internal skeleton like we do. Instead, their muscles are anchored to an exoskeleton—a sort of hard, semi-flexible shell that encases a spider's whole body. In order to grow bigger, spiders have to grow new exoskeletons and shed old ones.

Karli Larson found a spider on her window frame in the process of shedding its exoskeleton. Naturally, she filmed it and set the whole thing to music. She says:

The entire molting process took about 30 minutes to fully complete. This is the interesting part, sped up.

The camera is a little shakey, so if that bothers you, well, sorry. But I think this is still way fascinating.

Read more about spiders, their exoskeletons, and the molting process at HowStuffWorks

Thanks, Maggie Ryan Sandford!



  1. For the love of god use a tripod!

    Awesome video, and perfect soundtrack choice, so kudos on every other front.

    An old work buddy used to keep tarantulas and brought in an old exoskeleton for us to marvel over.  It was like an empty carbon copy of his spider, especially interesting as it was orange and furry.

  2. Whassiz the little vampire song? I MUST have that, for my Halloween broadcast in a few months.

      1. I can send you last year’s set list, if you’d like. Maybe a link to some archived tuneage, as well.

          1. Tryin’….Yer youtube page won’t let me post the set list..”Too Long”, it bitches…

  3. I’ve always loved watching and identifying different varieties of spiders around my house. In particular every year there’s at least one A. cavatica (who I name Charlotte, of course) who builds a web on the old TV aerial still on my roof. And I always wonder if they pick up signals.

    Anyway, all the time I’ve spent watching those spiders I’ve never seen one molt. This is fantastic.

  4. I gave up after a minute, the shakeycam was too much.  If she had uploaded that to YouTube i believe they offer a stabilization tool for such occasions.

  5. I was all like, man anyone can be a nature photographer now. And a producer and broadcaster too! That’s crazy. What an incredible world we’re living in where anyone can…

    Then the vampire song kicked in and I wanted to run screaming into David Attenborough’s arms. Oh hipsters…

  6. I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know spiders molted! I’ve watched quite a few edutainment shows about them, too! 

  7. Our first and at the time (until our first cat surpassed it) longest-lived pet was a female Mexican Brown Tarantula.  Watching her molt was like a ballet — the top of her thorax would come off and she’d kind of roll over on her side to pull t he rest of herself out of the carcass.  Very careful, very delicate.  

    And I frequently wished we had a good enough camera to catch the dulcet jewel tones of her magnificent new carapace once she finished, dried off and stood up for the first time all anew.  She was with us for almost 15 years and died in mid-molt.  Her name was Shelob, though the Doc kept trying to change it every time she molted.

    Nowadays my iPhone would have done the job, but I have cats. And one that is terribly predatory and smart — cage latches sufficient to keep a tarantula in would only get it et in a horribly nasty fashion.

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