Now let’s get one thing straight. I don’t like spiders. I don’t want them anywhere near me or my home. But I still want to know more about them so I can cope with day to day life with the prospect of seeing one at any moment! So here’s a few interesting facts about my arch enemies…
Spiders in general have a very bad reputation. Though most spiders are venomous and considered predators, of the thousands of species found worldwide, few are actually considered a health threat. In fact, spiders are actually helpful in controlling other pests in the home or garden since they feed on other insects and spiders. So if you CAN cope with them, then good for you - they may serve you well!
And contrary to popular belief, spiders rarely bite humans. There, I’ve said it!
So they are not that dangerous, honestly, but I just don’t like them because they look horrible and they have far too many hairy legs… I can just about cope with two from my boyfriend!
One of the most common misconceptions about spiders is that they are insects. Spiders are arachnids and are actually closely related to mites, ticks and scorpions. Spiders have two body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), eight legs and usually six to eight eyes (which are arranged into 2 rows of four or three) while insects are classified by having three body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), six legs, and generally two compound eyes or up to three single eyes.
The average life span of a spider is usually one to two years, but some can live five years and up to 20 years. That's not good news!
Spiders lay eggs within a silken egg sac that is often ball-shaped and either hidden in a web, fixed to a surface, or carried by the female. Spiders may produce several egg sacs, each containing up to several hundred eggs. A spider grows by shedding its skin (molting), usually four to twelve times before maturity. In many species, the mature male often wanders about in search of a mate. Some species of spiders may live for years, but most spiders only survive for one season.
All spiders produce silk, which is secreted as a liquid through the spinnerets and hardens on air contact. Spiders use silk for a variety of purposes, such as making egg sacs, capturing prey, holding prey, making shelters or retreats, and transferring sperm during mating. Also, spiderlings extrude silk threads that enable them to be transported by air currents, a process called “ballooning.”
Spiders are predators that typically feed on living prey. They produce venom that is poisonous to their normal prey of insects, mites, and other small arthropods. Venom is injected through the hollow fangs to immobilize the prey and begin the digestion process. Spiders can only ingest liquids, so they either inject or regurgitate digestive fluids into the prey. They then suck in the digested liquid food.
Spiders use a variety of tactics to capture prey. Some species are web builders that use webbing to ensnare their prey. Others are active hunters that actively search for their prey. Passive hunters are spiders that lay in wait for their prey rather than searching for it.
Although spiders are often unpopular, the venom of most species is not very toxic to humans, usually resulting in no more than a slight swelling, inflammation, or itching sensation. Most spiders’ fangs are too small or weak to puncture human skin. Spiders usually will not attempt to bite unless accidentally trapped against the skin or grasped, although some species actively guard their egg sacs or young. So be more careful if you see a spider near eggs.
Two spiders that are actually dangerous and can be a health risk are the brown recluse and black widow spider. These are fairly common in the USA so if you live there then make sure you stay away from these!
I have collected specific facts on these two nasties in another article on this website. Look those up from the articles tab on the left if you want to know more.