HOW DID SPIDERS GET THEIR NAME? Over 700 different kinds of spiders live in
WHAT DO SPIDERS LOOK LIKE? Spiders have a head and an abdomen (belly). They have 8 legs and up to 8 eyes. Spiders have tiny hairs and claws on their legs that help them feel when a bug is in their web. The little claws also help to cut the silk when they are weaving their web. Spiders come in many colors, from clear to yellow to green to black. Female spiders are much bigger than male spiders. Females will live for about a year. (Daddy-Long-Legs are not spiders because they dont have a distinct head and a body. They just have one little circle with everything on it, and 8 legs sticking off. True insects, like ants, have three body parts: head, abdomen, and thorax [chest].)
BABY SPIDERS Baby spiders are called spiderlings. Several babies are born from eggs in an egg sack. After hatching, a baby may balloon or shoot out a strand of silk that helps it float away on a breeze. Other kinds of spiderlings ride on their mothers back. Baby spiders have no color. This helps them hide from predators, like frogs, lizards, birds, and ants.
HOW ARE SPIDERS HELPFUL?Even though they can bite, spiders are very helpful, eating more insects than birds do. Spiders dont see very well. If you stand more than a foot away, most cant even see you. If a spider gets on you, the only thing it wants to do is get off. Dont squash it; just scoot it off. It may eat the bug that was going to bite you tomorrow!
HOW DO SPIDERS MAKE WEBS? The spiders that weave webs use silk to do this. They make the silk out of their own bodies and jump from tree branch to tree branch to make their web. Each kind of spider makes a different kind of web. Some of the strands in the web are sticky, to catch bugs, but some are dry. The spider walks on the dry strands so she doesnt get stuck. The spider usually waits in the center of the web, with one of her legs touching a strand. If she feels the strands jiggle, she goes to find the bug that is caught in the web. If it is just a leaf, or a really big bug that could tear up the web, the spider will cut the strands holding it, so it will fall out of the web. If she needs to rebuild a web, she will eat the broken web pieces and digest them. This helps her make more new silk. Nothing is wasted. (Spider webs are so strong that some native peoples twist the webs to make fishing nets. Others use the web for Band-aids.)
HOW DO SPIDERS EAT? Spiders dont chew their food. When they get to the bug in their web, they bite it and inject venom. The venom either paralyzes or kills the bug. Then the venom turns the bugs insides into liquid. While the venom is working, the spider wraps the bug in silk. She may drink the liquid then, or tie the little silk bundle to her web so she can snack later. Most spiders have venom. Lucky for us, only two main spiders have venom dangerous to people: the Black Widow and Brown Recluse. If you are bitten by a spider, always tell a grown-up as soon as possible. Click here to go to our Venomous Creatures page to learn about dangerous spiders.
To see a Black Widow
Spider in her web, click here.
Levi, Herbert W. A Golden Guide to Spiders and Their Kin. Wisconson: Western Publishing Company, Inc., 1990.
Smith, Francia. Come Into My Parlor, League of Environmental Educators of Florida (LEEF) Conference, March 1996, Ellenton, Florida.
Provided by the Pelotes Island Nature Preserve
Invertebrates Coloring Page
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