Spiders, Man!

Spiders have been haunting mankind for thousands of year. Rock paintings dating back millennia in Australia reveal this. Arachne of the Greek myth telling about their origins is where we derive the class name. Additionally, reword: numerous surveys reveal that spiders and snakes are the two creatures most feared by humans.

Present day is no different. Three of the most successful movie franchises popular over the last decade have had large spiders featured in them – Shelob from Lord of the Rings, Aragog from the Harry Potter series, and we will throw in the Spiderman movies, as well.

Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider photo by Oakley Originals, Creative Commons License. (Original cropped).

Identification

Many children learn early on about how to identify a spider from an insect:

  • Insects have six legs and spiders have eight.
  • Insects have three main body parts (head, thorax, abdomen), while spiders have two main segments (cephalothorax and abdomen).
  • How dangerous are spiders in the United States?

  • Only two dangerous spiders exist in the United States, and in many states, neither of these spiders can be found: the black widow, and the brown recluse. They are the most feared spiders in the United States.
  • Fewer than 5,000 people die from spider bites each year.
  • It is more likely that someone will die from a brown recluse bite than from a black widow bite.
  • The Proliferation of Spiders:

    • One acre can support up to a million spiders.
    • In more “natural” habitats, there is likely to be a spider within four feet of you.

    Spiders Around the World:

    • Spiders can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
    • Over 43,000 species of spiders have been documented in the world, as of 2008.
    • At least 4,000 spider species in the United States.

    Spider Mobility:

    • Spiders “fly” by creating enough silk to balloon themselves, sending them airborne. While some spiders have even been seen 10,000 feet in the air, they do not usually stay airborne for long.
    • When a spider is moving, there are always four legs on the surface and four off of it.

    Spiders also:

    • Fall into two different categories: web spinners and hunter/wandering spiders. The two categories can then be divided into sub-categories.
    • Are predators and most feed on insects. Other larger spider species are known to eat mice, fish, small birds, and even bats!
    • Help control other insects in and around the home by capturing and consuming them. A large number of spiders around the home may be an indication of insect problems/infestation.
    • Spin webs that are “tougher than steel” — For its weight, spider web silk is actually stronger and tougher than steel.
    • Are mostly solitary animals, but there are some that form communities, building large communal cobwebs. Colonies can number in the thousands of individuals and they will work together to incapacitate prey trapped in their webs and share the harvest with each other.
    • Feared by many humans. Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is one of the most common fears in the world. It affects approximately 10% of men and 50% of women.
    • Have blood that is pale blue in color.
    • Can only take in liquid food. The venom allows them to change their prey into a liquid substance.
    • Differ from Granddaddy-longlegs, which is another type of arachnid, along with spiders, ticks, mites, and scorpions, and belong to a group called “harvestmen.”
    • Have at least two tiny claws at the ends of their legs. Web-spinning spiders have three tiny claws and hang on to the web with its middle claw.

    Even though there are many scenarios in which spiders should be controlled, proper knowledge and prevention of these eight-legged creatures can help mankind not only live with, but also appreciate spiders as well.