Real Life, spiders tend to be rather lonely creatures. A lot of species have females eating their males after breeding, and, in many cases, the mother herself ends up eaten by her own children once they hatch.
In fiction, though, things tend to be different. Occasionally, especially in a Science Fiction or Fantasy setting, a work will depict a species of (often but not necessarly) Giant Spiders that attack in large number, or even live in colony, the same way ants, termites and bees do. They will often have a "Spider Queen", which they protect and which will be often much bigger than they are. And they will have eggs, a lot of eggs, that can hatch anytime, unleashing entire swarms of small spiders on you.
The reason for this trope is quite obvious. Spiders Are Scary, so an entire colony of spiders will be even scarier, much more so than one of giant ants or termites. There is also the fact a spider nest can easily be imagined as filling the role of a hive for bees.
A very common trope in Video Games, where spiders are typically featured as small but numerous enemies who obey to a bigger one.
Notice that the trope, while it can be a case of Artistic License – Biology or genuine mistake, can also be, to an extent, justified if the species of spiders involved is fictional. Also, as noted in the Real Life section of this page, this trope actually is, to some extent, Truth in Television: there are species of spiders that are social, just not to the extent presented in fiction.
- Immortal Iron Fist: The Bride of Nine Spiders, one of the Immortal Weapons, combines this with The Worm That Walks. Her body hosts a myriad of spiders which she can release at will to devour enemies alive.
- Red Robin: One of the Council of Spiders members who Tim fights at a League of Assassins base is a Pest Controller who is always covered in spiders and who can have his spiders lay eggs in people and then kill them while eating their way out.
- The villain Miss Arrow is composed of thousands of hive-minded spiders.
- While not actually used, Spider-Man invokes this trope when dealing with a bank robber who takes a woman hostage.
Crook: YOU! QUIT! LEAVE! RIGHT NOW! This weapon has a hundred thousand volts and I'll tag this girl with every last one of them unless you...
Spider-Man: The spiders.
Crook: Uh, what?
Spider-Man: I'm summoning the spiders.
Crook: What are you...?
Spider-Man: I'm Spider-Man. And you're making me mad. I'm summoning the spiders. They will come to my call. Hundreds of them. Thousands. And all of them at my command.
Spider-Man: Because I'm Spider-Man!
Crook: I GIVE, DUDE! I GIVE!
- Thorgal once runs into a woman whose true form is a Giant Spider due to a curse, who can control her tens of thousands of children.
- Game of Touhou: Ser Yamame is skilled in warging spiders and other tiny creatures to point of making huge swarms. And that's how she ends Yukari Yakumo's life.
- Various Vytal Ventures: In "Bark and Bite", this becomes the case when someone lets a number of Aggromantulas out of their cages... in the middle of a White Fang faunus rally.
- Arachnophobia: The Venezuelan spider species presented in the film consists mostly of drones that lack sex organs, and they have a hive with a queen similarly to bees or ants. It is implied that if left to breed freely, the spiders would eventually give birth to a new queen capable of birthing fertile offspring, eventually leading to the whole world being overrun by the extremely aggressive and venomous strain of spiders.
- Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar has a swarm of spiders in a pit used by the Romans as obstacle for their games. Asterix gets swarmed from head to toes, while Obelix get rid of them by blowing very hard.
- Eight Legged Freaks: The town the movie takes place in ends up getting overrun by a large swarm of Giant Spiders.
- Hangman's Curse: It's revealed that the attacks are the result of planted pheromones causing an African Spotted wolf spider to bite the victims. Then, they breed with a brown recluse spider and infest the school. The climax of the film has the spiders blanketing part of the school.
- Jumanji: One of the final hazards unleashed by the game is a horde of oversized spiders that attack the players.
- Kingdom of the Spiders: The use of DDT causes spiders to do this and swarm a town.
- Lost in Space: The Spiders appear to be collective, or at least attack in large number.
- The Mist: Some of the monsters that attack the protagonists are massive arachnids that cocoon and lay their eggs inside people. The trope really kicks in when the young hatch from inside the unfortunate victim, causing streams of small spiders to pour from the bodies.
- Monster Hunter (2020): What's left of Alpha Team after their encounter with Diablos is attacked by a swarm of spider-like Nerscylla. Only Captain Artemis gets out alive.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark: As Indy and Satipo are exploring the South American temple, Satipo's back becomes covered with tarantulas, which Indy brushes off. Tarantulas are usually solitary.
- Spiders II: Breeding Ground: Near the end, the entire ship is overrun by CGI Giant Spiders after the heroine opens their cages to distract the bad guys.
- The Ashtown Burials has the deadly Whip Spiders living in the Polygon, which hunt in packs and attack with stinging tentacles. At one point Nolan tumbles onto their level and is swarmed instantly. Good Thing You Can Heal comes into play, although it still hurts.
- The Black Spider: A swarm of tiny, poisonous spiders sprout from Christine's face mark and start killing the village's cattle when the villagers try to back down from a deal with the devil for the second time.
- Dr. No sent James Bond through a "torture tunnel" to see how far he would make it. One of the obstacles was about two dozen tarantulas restrained by a mesh screen that Bond was required to break through. He knew that their bite was not fatal, but certainly painful.
- Harry Potter: The giant spiders known as Acromantulas appear to be social, although instead of a queen, they are led by an elderly male spider named Aragog. It's explicitly stated that Aragog had a bride, so apparently, Acromantulas females don't feed on their male (although they do traditionally devour their dead). The acromantula in the forbidden forest are forced out and swarm into Hogwarts during the final battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Acromantulas were spiders bred by wizards to guard treasure troves, which explains their size, their sociality (Acromantulas, while acting otherwise like spiders, can communicate with humans through speech), their preference for human flesh, and why they tend to favor humans they hatch under the care of.
- The Hobbit: One area of Mirkwood forest is full of giant intelligent talking spiders who all live together in the trees and cooperatively hunt prey. Justified by the fact that they are not normal arachnids, but rather demonic spiders. Probably the Ur-Example.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen: Mogora, occasional wife of Iskaral Pust, is a shapeshifter who can become a swarm of hundreds of spiders. She torments her husband to no end with her abilities.
- The Quest of the Unaligned: One fire-spider is pretty easy to defeat. Unfortunately, they tend to run in swarms of 500+. When Alaric and Laeshana have to fight through a tunnel infested by such a swarm, it quickly becomes one of the book's tensest and most epic scenes.
- The Future Is Wild: One of the speculative future creatures is the Silver Spider, which has a similar eusocial caste system to ants or bees.
- Stranger Things: Vecna forces his victims to hallucinate a swarm of black widows crawling from cracks and crevices.
- Wednesday: In "Quid Pro Woe", one of the flashbacks to Wednesday's previous birthdays shows her hitting a spider-shaped piñata, which proves full of live spiders, scaring the other kids. The young Wednesday, however, let them swarm over her without a hint of discomfort.
- The Lost Cat: Episode 5, "They're Only Spiders", features an absolutely massive swarm of spiders that pours out of toilets and sinks and sends the townsfolk fleeing. They take shelter around the Hole of the Leviathan — due to its strange vibrations — and end up surrounded by a wall of spiders so thick it blots out the sky. By the next day, they're all dead and everyone eats them.
- BIONICLE: The Visorak horde. While there are giant Visorak specimens called Kahgarak, all of them are soldiers who answered to the Brotherhood of Makuta and whoever they assign to be their king. Their objective is to overrun entire islands, trap, kill or mutate the locals, and claim the universe for the Brotherhood.
- Arkham Horror: The Card Game: One of the weakest but most numerous minions of Atlach-Nacha are swarms of small spiders. They are pathetically weak, but are very hard to run away from once they gather in massive numbers (which they do).
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Early editions had a variety of giant spiders, all of whom appeared in packs. The maximum number varied by type, including Huge spiders (up to 12) and Large (up to 20).
- Literal swarms of spiders (as well as insects and small animals) are often encountered — they occupy a ten foot square area, and do damage by being in the same square as their prey. Often they are not easily damaged by conventional means, making them the bane of many a low-level party.
- Noumenon: Dark, furry spiders make their homes in slimy pockets in the cliff face of the Spider Mountain. When a moment presents itself, they will attempt to pick off any isolated or slow travellers. A bitten victim is overcome with paralysis, and more spiders will emerge to swarm and rend with their sharp claws.
- Numenera: On the southern shores of Lostrei's Glass Sea, mounds periodically grow from the earth and gradually swell to around the size of a house. Once they reach this point, they burst to release thousands upon thousands of poisonous spiders that hungrily swarm over anything that moves.
- One of the hallucinations caused by breathing a basidirond's spore cloud is that you're being attacked by a swarm of spiders, which then causes you to waste a turn attacking the empty ground.
- Morrignas, psychopomps who dress themselves in cobwebs and consider the patient, careful and trap-weaving spiders to be their spiritual kin, can summon swarms of spiders at will and see through their eyes.
- Shriezyx are spider-like aberrations that live in large hives, and when disturbed attack as moving carpets of chittering, swarming bodies.
- The Strange: Fluffy white spiderfields extend all around Gatt, covering everything in a shroud of silky webs that looks like new-fallen snow. Swarms of tiny white spiders will awaken to crawl up the legs and cover the bodies of foolish visitors who wade out into the white.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse: The Ananasi werespiders, a periphery were-race, have this as one of their forms. A single werespider can transform into an equivalent mass of regular-sized spiders with the human-level mind guiding the swarm as a sort of Hive Mind semi-distributed among the arachnids.
- Disney Theme Parks: A swarm of spiders is included as a part of Hopper's army in It's Tough to be a Bug, where they drop down from the ceiling towards the audience, only for them to pull back up per Hopper's demands.
- Futuroscope: In Arthur, the 4D Adventure, Betameche flies you straight into a spiderweb, bothering a whole colony of spiders. These wouldn't count as Giant Spiders, except for the fact that you're reduced to Minimoy size...
- Universal Studios: Occurs in Shrek 4D, where after Donkey and Shrek disturb a lone spider, a whole horde of them come down on webs and drop to the ground, with the illusion then being given off of them crawling over the audience's legs.
- Alan Wake: The enemies that Alan faces are small hordes of giant spiders. They can be killed fairly quickly with just the flashlight.
- Bloodborne features the Nightmare Apostles, Giant Spider hordes which chase you throughout their home once they spot you. The red variant summoned by Chime Maiden are far worse, they can detect you without seeing you, catching most people off guard when they are idling.
- Brütal Legend: After Ophelia is injured, Eddie is told he needs to go to the lair of the Metal Queen to get bass strings thick enough for Killmaster to heal her, which is crawling with swarms of tiny spiders that will swarm over Eddie and drain his health, plus larger, human sized spiders, and the Metal Queen herself, who's as big as a house.
- Dark Souls II: The Duke's Dear Freja commands an army of relatively smaller giant spiders. Interestingly enough, if you manage to chop off one of Freja's heads, the spiders will run away from it. This implies that the spiders are being driven by their fear of Freja.
- Diablo III:
- Act I has you going through the Caverns of Araneae, an ancient ruin filled with spiders that follow this trope under every aspect, in pursuit of Maghda and the Coven following the death of Deckard Cain at their hands. The Witch-Doctor is delighted.
- Talking about the Witch-Doctor, one of their spells summons swarms of spiders. At higher levels, it can summon a Spider Queen that spawns armies of smaller spiders.
- Donkey Kong:
- Don't Starve: The spider enemies live in a spider nest, attack all together, and a nest can spawn a "Spider Queen" who spawns spider followers.
- Dragon Age:
- Dragon Age: Origins features Giant Spiders that are apparently social, since you usually meet them as packs. The number you usually met by group can range from three of five to an entire swarm of them.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition: One mission has you locate missing scouts in the Hissing Wastes, already considered the worst place in the world. You find the missing scouts alright, along with far more spiders in this one small camp alone than there are dragons across the entire franchise. The Forbidden Oasis has a sidequest where you fight roughly twice that number of the corrupted version in close quarters.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
- While they aren't explicitly stated as collective creatures, and no Queen has been featured yet, you usually meet Frosbite Spiders in large numbers. They usually are met by group of five, but you can easily meet several groups in the same dungeon, as well as one giant one as an occasional boss.
- Then Dragonborn gives us the Albino Spiders and their variants, which are all significantly smaller but much more numerous than the Frostbites.
- Grim Dawn: Not only do giant spiders attack in large groups, they also have specialized melee and ranged units.
- Hidden Dragon: Legend has a swarm of mechanical spiders in the mountain levels, which you must outrun over bridges, platforms, and various obstacles until you find an exit leading to the next area.
- Kill It with Fire: The whole plot of the game revolves around stopping a spider infestation in a city.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The Temple of Time dungeon is infested with tiny baby spiders watched over by four-legged spiders. After defeating the Giant Spider Armoghoma, it drops to the floor, surrounded by a swarm of the tiny spiders.
- Let's Go Island have Giant Spider swarms as the first enemies encountered.
- Metro: Last Light: Artyom encounters nests of Spiderbugs, Giant Spider-scorpion hybrids who are Weakened by the Light. A few rounds of flashlight tag and they're Flipping Helpless.
- Power Pete: In Fairy Tale Trail, Little Miss Muffet will release this under her dress.
- Resident Evil: Killing a giant spider in the 1996 original causes it to release dozens of baby spiders (about the size of a real tarantula) that attack, but only do negligible damage to the player. They can be stepped on simply by walking over them, but it's better to just run away, since they despawn along with momma spider's carcass once you leave the room.
- The Rewinder has a path blocked by a whole carpet of spiders, too much to even consider stomping on. You'll need to obtain gunpowder and a lighter to scatter them away.
- Spiritual Assassin Taromaru: The forest area has a path which is carpeted with spiders that devour everything in sight. There are platforms in the stage you can use to cross, but miss a jump and you'll be Devoured by the Horde.
- Total War: Warhammer: Swarms of giant — roughly person-sized — spiders are available to a number of factions. As a rule, they're not particularly durable or strong fighter, but their quick speed and speed-draining poisonous attacks make them useful for swarming ranged units, harassing backlines, and chasing down routing troops.
- The Arachnarok Queen, a house-sized spider available to the Greenskins, can spawn swarms of hatchlings mid-battle. Such swarms can also be recruited as normal units from a special building in Mount Arachnos.
- Drycha and Mother Ostankya, two characters themed around a dark and wrathful vision of nature, can recruit swarms of giant spiders not otherwise available to their races' other factions.
- Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception: There are tons of massive spider swarms that appear out of nowhere to crawl all over Nate and co. and can actually kill Nate (or the Red Shirt Mooks who get ditched by Talbot once they have outlived their usefulness.)
- Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos: Nerubians are spider-people with a social structure, with Queens and Spider Lords as the most powerful units. Though they're more of a mishmash of various arthropods including spiders, beetles and mantids.
- Grrl Power: Parodied in comic 331. When Vance introduces himself to Sydney he claims to be 100s of spiders communicating telepathically as a colony intellect, held together by a fake human suit. Queue Sydney moving away. Incidentally, Dave has said he hadn't actually decided on Vance's power yet, so this may end up being true.
- Our Little Adventure: The party is confronted once by several giant spiders and a full swarm of normal-sized spiders at the same time.
- Questionable Content has the Coffee of Doom's basement, also known (rightfully) as the Spider Zone.
- Wilde Life: This is actually a good thing — wolf spiders are the minions of the White-Faced Bear, and tend to show up when our protagonists are threatened (particularly Cliff, whom the WFB is invested in for unknown reasons). This does not mean that the person they're helping won't be freaked out when they swarm all over him.
- The SCP Foundation has several:
- SCP-859 instills people who touch with severe arachnophobia, intense allergy to spider venom, and delusions of swarms of spiders crawling towards or on them. One subject was found dead in his room and covered in bite marks, suggesting that these swarms are a little less than illusory.
- SCP-1006 is a huge colony of intelligent, literate spiders who have organized themselves under a Marxist communist government.
- SCP-1506 is a phenomenon that spontaneously generates spider webs arranged in such a way that it can fly long distances with the wind's help. The webs contain several species of spiders that feed by lowering to an altitude of under 500 meters, then using webs to pull prey (including humans) upwards, where they will be slowly digested over 5 days (for humans, different animals take more or less time). The horror comes from being completely restrained while thousands of spiders crawl over your body and slowly drain your fluids. An especially large colony collided with a plane in flight, causing the spiders to fill up the plane. The pilots decided to crash the plane in a way that would burn up all the spiders.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
- "Campfire Tales": A camping trip is interrupted by the arrival of a huge swarm of fly-ders, spiders with insect wings, that came there seeking food. This kind of swarming behavior seems natural for the fly-ders, which are able to force the characters to flee through sheer numbers and multidirectional attacks. Applejack implies the fly-ders would have tried to eat them if they had managed to overwhelm them.
- "What Lies Beneath": Yona's trial involves facing an enormous swarm of spiders that comes boiling out from the walls of the cave, and which in several shots appears as a single, solid mass dotted with glowing red eyes. They're actually quite helpful.
- Some real-life spider species actually are social, but not to the extent of eusocial insects (like bees, ants, and termites). These species will band together in colonies, cooperate in capturing prey, share food, and communally watch over their eggs. A few species even have division of labor between dominant, reproductive females and subordinate females that only occasionally reproduce — whether this constitutes true eusociality is under debate by biologists. As of 2015, only 25 of the 45,000 extant species of spiders known are considered "social".
- M. balfouri is a particularly noteworthy example, not in scale of number of individuals but in term of size of individuals. They are medium-sized tarantulas but only form colonies of three to twelve individuals. Also bizarre in that they seem to evolving away from eusociality as they actively assist each other in breeding and surviving the experience of breeding for the males of colony. note
- Even among solitary spiders, there are some occasions where they will swarm. It is not unheard of in the Southwest United States to find a gigantic swarm of tarantulas migrating across the desert together during mating season. Phrases like "the ground itself seemed to be moving" are often used to describe such events.
- Trees covered by webs of thousands of spiders have occasionally been sighted during floods or other disasters, because they'd drown otherwise. This is actually a really good thing, since floodzones are also likely to be swarming with mosquitoes and the like, and the spider swarms keep their populations down.
- The harvestman, known in the southern US as the daddy long leg, isn't a true spider but they do look like them from afar. They are known for holing up in massive colonies that look like gigantic mass of black.