Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is prevalent in western cultures, affecting about fifty percent of the population. These eight-legged creatures are commonly cited as something to be afraid of when in reality most are harmless. Human males are typically more likely to suffer from Arachnophobia than woman. The black widow spider is particularly terror-inducing and attributes to a large part of this statistic. This poisonous creature is aptly named from her desire to consume her male partner after reproduction. The phrase, “the female of the species is more deadly than the male,” undoubtedly applies in this case.
Phidippus Putnami Jumping Spider
There are over 40,000 species of spiders with 109 family variations, though these numbers frequently change. Due to the arachnids’ diversity, scientists are unsure of how to comprehensibly categorize these arthropods and as such, several methodology proposals have been requested over the past century. The creatures are established in almost every habitat in the world and are considered the seventh most diverse species in the world. While they characteristically have eight legs, spiders may also have fangs which may or may not inject venom and are typically small to palm-sized with multiple sets of eyes.
A spider’s habitat is perhaps the best known in the world. Intricate webs exist in all kinds of settings, climates and conditions. Webbing is a vital part of an arachnid’s ability to eat, reproduce and seek shelter. The intricate weaving of webs also supplies water for their inhabitants, capturing dew and raindrops. Even ground spiders, who spend most of their time on the lower levels, use webs. There are many different types and styles of webbing but each serves the same purpose.
A group of spiders with the ability to weave intricate, circular webs are known as orbs. This group of arachnids, like nearly all of its cousins, use webs to catch and eat their pray. However, unlike some other groups of these creatures, orbs also devour their web when ingesting their pray, almost like a web burrito. The orb webs can be spun as large as two feet wide, and it is usually the female who spins the main web. The male garden spiders also help out by spinning the smaller inner web. This is what gives the webbing its distinct shape. Males and females may build a web, or home, together. Some may work alone, and some may even move in to a web another insect has left behind. All is dependent upon the species’ specific needs and instinctual habits.
Most spiders are carnivorous and enjoy feasting on flying insects, such as aphids, flies, bees, wasps and grasshoppers – all of which are easily caught in their large spindles. Wolf spiders and trap-door spiders use their webs to bait these type of insects. Many species of arachnids build their webs up high or in trees where natural enemies remain in view but are of little threat; trees provide hunting grounds with little competition. These locations are also ideal to keep these creatures protected from the weather.
Life Cycle of Spiders
For the seventh most diverse species in the world, most spiders reproduce in similar fashions. Arachnids are excellent reproduction vessels. One single female may lay up to 3,000 or more eggs at one time. These tiny eggs are laid in an egg sac, which allows the eggs to remain together while growing (considering these minuscule eggs are typically no more in size than a needle point and are difficult to detect, this is a particularly useful and efficient manner of protection). These durable, humid sacs are beneficial for eggs and increase the stability of the group. Many species are able to attach this egg sac to their webs for further protection and some choose to carry them as a chelicerae, which is a contraption similar to that of a collar and leash. The eggs may remain in the sac for up to six months with slight variations depending on the species.
When the babies, or spiderlings, are born, they are sexually immature. After hatching, they go through a larval stage in which they look like a miniature version of an adult. Some mothers, such as the wolf species will care and nurture for her young until they reach maturity, while many others choose to abandon their young after they hatch. As they progress through the larval stages, they molt. This is a form of shedding and allows for rapid growth. Their skin, which is commonly referred to as their cuticle, is unable to grow quickly enough. Following five or six molting cycles, the spiderling is considered mature.
Many spiders may only live for one or two years, but certain species, particularly those kept in captivity, can enjoy a full and prolonged life of up to thirty years. This is typical of tarantulas and other pet species. The males, however, tend to have a shorter lifespan, some of which are commonly eaten after mating. The female may reproduce every year of her mature adult life.
Spiders and Humans
While many people are scared of spiders, it’s relatively rare to be bitten by one. Bites are typically defensive mechanisms and most commonly will produce effects similar to those of a bee-sting or mosquito bite. There are, however, certain spiders that should be avoided altogether, such as the recluse and widow spiders. Their bites have serious medical implications. In the case of a bite from this kind of arachnid, ice should be applied and the area monitored. Signs of increased swelling, pain or discoloration require immediate medical attention. A bite from a recluse is known to double the body mass in the area affected and in some cases may even cause death.
Baby Spiders Nest
In the eastern world, arachnids are commonly consumed as a local dish. In Cambodia, Venezuela and Piaroa, the tarantula is even considered a delicacy. Certain species are kept as pets and their webbing can be viewed in glass aquariums similar to those of reptiles. Medicinal benefits have also been discovered from arachnid venom. While usually toxic in certain situations, venom can be professionally procured to create treatments for many common heart ailments and other conditions such as Alzheimer’s, strokes and even erectile dysfunction. Researchers are also trying to find a way to harness spider silk, which is light and durable and very strong. Also check out our page what do spider bites look like?
Spider control is very difficult as they can multiply in the blink of an eye as you can see in the above image. Most pesticides work really good against spiders. Visit our spider control page to learn more.
Spider Scientific Name: Araneae
Spiders belong to the Animalia kingdom and belong to the phylum Arthroda. They are classed as Arachinda under the order of the Arenea. They are divided into two further groups, Mesothelae and Opisthothelae (which breaks into further subgroups).