Courtesy photo Webs are used by spiders as a home and a place to capture food. Insects get caught in the sticky strands and the spider does not need to expend much energy in the hunt because it can sense the ensnared prey. With every kick and push in an attempt to escape, the helpless insect sends vibrations that serve as transmissions to the nearby spider.
published: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Despite reputation, spiders not as scary as you may think
Watch the busy spider
He's helpful as can be.
Eating insects all day long
now they won't bite me!
-- By Purplebabs
Many people have the wrong idea about spiders. It would seem that next to snakes, spiders are among the most feared creatures. Even though all spiders have venom, most of the toxins have little, if any, effect on humans. The venom is to subdue smaller prey such as insects. In general, the only reason a spider will bite a human is self-defense. The bites are usually less painful than a mosquito bite or bee sting. Even the feared black widow and brown recluse spiders bite only when they feel threatened. In fact, in the entire 20th century there were only 100 reports of deaths associated with spider bites. But since these creepy crawly creatures cause so much anxiety, perhaps a little education is in order.
Florida is home to many species of arachnids including jumping, crab, golden silk, spiny orb-weaver, and wolf spiders, just to name a few. Each family of spiders is unique and has its own characteristics. But there are some things that all spiders have in common. They are all air-breathing arthropods, which is an invertebrate animal having an external skeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Spiders have eight legs and fangs that inject venom. They are equipped with spinnerets, which are silk spinning glands connected to their abdomens. And all spiders are oviparous, which means their babies come from eggs.
People know spiders are near by seeing webs. These magnificent structures consist of sticky and non-sticky silken thread. Webs are used by spiders as a home and a place to capture food. Insects get caught in the sticky strands and the spider does not need to expend much energy in the hunt. Once the spider is finished with the web, it will wait nearby until the prey is trapped. The spider senses the impact with tiny hairs located on its legs. The vibrations caused by the struggling creature send transmissions along the silky strands with every kick and push in its attempt to escape. There are some species of spiders that don't use webs. The jumping and wolf spiders actually hunt down their prey without the benefit of a web.
Spiders have exceptional eyesight. This is mostly due to the fact that they have so many eyes. Depending on the type, spiders can have from one to four sets of eyes. They are arranged in different ways on the head depending on species. Each set of eyes has a different function such as detecting light and forming images.
Many misconceptions exist regarding spiders. For example, even though spiders are a member of the arachnid family, not all arachnids are spiders. In fact, there are many other orders of arachnids which include ticks, scorpions, mites and others. In general, folks are not too happy when they see a spider inside, but house spiders prey on insects and are not out for "blood." Spiders only bite to eat or protect themselves. Most spiders don't have venom strong enough to harm humans or pets.
So next time you see a spider, try not to get too anxious. Remember, that creature probably has no desire to bite you since you are too large to consume. In reality, spiders are incredibly beneficial to humans. Their main diet is insects, which keeps many other types of pesky bugs in check.
- Spiders are not insects. Insects have three body parts and six legs. Spiders have eight legs and two body parts, the abdomen and the thorax.
- There are more than 30,000 species of spiders.
- Most spiders have either six or eight eyes.
- Fear of spiders is called Arachnophobia. It is one of the most common fears among humans.
- Tarantulas shed their furry skin as they grow, leaving behind what looks just like another tarantula.
- Spiders eat many types of harmful insects, helping to keep your garden free of pests.
- On an equal weight basis, spider silk is stronger than steel and Kevlar, which is used to make bullet-proof vests.
Corine Burgess is and Environmental Specialist for the Highlands County Parks and Natural Resources Department. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily those of the News-Sun.
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