Spiders
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About Spiders

Spiders are not insects however many people often list them when talking about types of bugs. The spider belongs to the animal kingdom, class Arachnida, and order Araneae. These eight-legged wonders create some of the most striking webs in some of the most unlikely places captivating our interest and intrigue.

Many people fear the spider whereas some find their unique web-building capabilities fascinating.  You do not have to be Spiderman to have an interest in exploring the extraordinary world of spiders, including different species, their distinct traits, and fascinating behaviors.

With a diverse range of species, there are approximately 48,000 known spider species around the world. Each species possesses its own remarkable features, making them intriguing subjects of study. Here are a few popular spider species:

What makes spiders unique?

Spiders are renowned for their remarkable ability to produce silk. Silk serves various purposes for the spider, such as constructing webs, creating protective retreats, and wrapping prey. Spider silk is incredibly strong and elastic, often outperforming steel in terms of strength-to-weight ratio.

Another unique characteristic of the spider is its ability to molt. As spiders grow, they periodically shed their exoskeletons through a process called molting. This allows them to accommodate their increasing body size and regenerate lost appendages.

Spiders Summary

Spiders are captivating creatures that play essential roles in ecosystems worldwide. Their diverse species, ranging from the massive Goliath birdeater to the minuscule Patu digua, showcase the incredible diversity within the arachnid world. 

A spider, such as the Sydney funnel-web spider, possesses a venomous bite, whereas, most spiders pose little threat to humans and instead contribute to pest control by feeding on insects. Their ability to produce silk, their unique hunting strategies, and their intricate reproductive behaviors make the spider truly fascinating creatures worthy of our admiration and study.

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Types of Spiders

Black Widow

The Black Widow is infamous for its venomous bite. These spiders, identified by their shiny black bodies and distinctive red hourglass-shaped markings.

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Brazilian Wandering Spider

The Brazilian Wandering Spider, found in S. America, is notorious for its venomous bite, potent neurotoxins, & distinctive wandering behavior in tropical forests.

Brown Recluse Spider

The Brown Recluse is a venomous spider found in parts of the US. These spiders have a distinct violin-shaped marking on their cephalothorax.

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Darwin's Bark Spider

Darwin's Bark Spider, native to Madagascar, is known for its immense orb webs, strong silk, and remarkable silk-spanning behaviors.

Fishing Spider

The Fishing Spider, found near water bodies worldwide, is skilled at hunting aquatic prey, using surface tension and silk to navigate, capturing fish and insects.

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula

The Goliath Birdeater Tarantula, native to S. America, is one of the largest spiders, with a massive body and impressive leg span.

Huntsman Spider

Huntsman Spiders, found in tropical regions, are large, agile predators with flattened bodies and long legs, known for their effective hunting techniques.

Jumping Spider

Jumping spiders are known for their incredible agility and exceptional eyesight. These compact spiders have the ability to jump several times their body length.

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Orb Weaving Spider

Orb-Weaving Spiders, skilled web builders, create intricate, wheel-like webs to ensnare prey. Found globally, they demonstrate nature's architectural precision.

Tarantula

Tarantulas are large, hairy spiders. They are found in various parts of the world, inhabiting diverse habitats such as deserts & rainforests

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Wolf Spider

The Wolf Spider, a diverse family of hunters, boasts excellent eyesight and agility. It actively hunts, chasing down prey instead of using webs.

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FAQ’s

1. What are the largest and smallest spiders in the world?

The largest spider in the world is the Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi). Found in South America, these impressive spiders can reach a leg span of up to 12 inches (30 centimeters). Despite their intimidating size, they primarily feed on insects, small vertebrates, and occasionally, small birds.

On the other end of the scale, the smallest spider is the Patu digua, also known as the Patu marplesi. Measuring a mere 0.01 inches (0.25 millimeters) in body length, these tiny spiders are found in Colombia. They are so small that they can easily fit on the head of a pin.

2. Which spider has the deadliest bite?

Among the many venomous spiders, the Sydney funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus) is considered to have one of the deadliest bites. Found in Australia, their venom contains a potent neurotoxin that can be fatal if left untreated. However, due to the development of antivenom and effective medical treatments, fatalities from Sydney funnel-web spider bites have significantly decreased in recent years.

3. How long do spiders live (Lifespan)?

The lifespan of spiders varies greatly among species. Some spiders live only for a few months, while others can survive for several years. The longevity of spiders is influenced by factors such as habitat, availability of food, and predation risks.

One species known for its long lifespan is the female trapdoor spider (Gaius villosus). These spiders can live up to 20 years, spending most of their lives hidden in burrows with hinged trapdoors that they use to ambush prey.

4. What do spiders eat?

Spiders are carnivorous creatures, feeding primarily on insects and other small arthropods. They have a unique way of capturing their prey. Most spiders spin silk to construct elaborate webs, which they use to ensnare unsuspecting insects that get trapped in the sticky threads.

Other spiders, such as wolf spiders and jumping spiders, rely on their exceptional hunting skills. They actively chase and capture their prey without the use of webs. Once the prey is caught, spiders inject venom into their victims to immobilize and digest them, before feeding on the liquefied tissues.

5. How do spiders reproduce?

Spiders have diverse reproductive strategies, but most follow a general pattern. Males often engage in elaborate courtship rituals, using intricate movements and vibrations to attract females. Once courtship is successful, the male transfers his sperm to a specialized structure called the palpal bulb, which is located on his pedipalps.

The male then transfers the sperm from his palpal bulb into the female’s reproductive organ, allowing fertilization to occur. After mating, the female produces eggs, which she protects and sometimes carries in a specialized silk sac until they hatch. Spiderlings emerge from the eggs as miniature versions of adults and undergo gradual growth and molting as they develop.

Sources
  • Burnie, David & Wilson, Don, Animal, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.
  • Hickman et al, Integrated Principle of Zoology, McGraw Hill, Boston.