Spiders are air-breathing group of animals called “arachnids” that have eight legs and jaws with fangs that are able to inject venom.

Arachnids are creatures with two body segments, eight legs, no wings or antennae and are not able to chew. Spiders have no extensor muscles in their limbs and instead extend their limbs by hydraulic pressure.

Spiders are not insects. Spiders while sharing certain features with insects differ because arachnids sport only two body segments while insects have a head, thorax (with three pairs of legs) and an abdomen.

While the venom of a few species is dangerous to humans, scientists are now researching the use of spider venom in medicine and as non-polluting pesticides. All spiders are predators and many will eat other spiders.

Most spiders that people encounter in daily life have jaws with fangs that point diagonally forward and cross in a pinching action. Other kind’s arachnids have jaws with fangs which point straight down and do not cross each other.

Spiders are often classified by the number of eyes and eye arrangement. The eye arrangement gives clues to the spiders hunting styles. Spiders have eight eyes or less. In general web building spiders have bad eyesight, while hunting spiders have good eyesight which to see their prey during moonless nights. Some spiders have up to four rows of eyes and there are 25 different arrangements of spider’s eyes.

Spiders use silk, a material made from proteins and spun through special organs inside their bodies, to create their webs and to travel around. Some use the silk as an anchor for jumping, and others use it to float along in the wind.

Spider silk is famous for its strength and durability and some types of silk can stretch up to five times their original length. The silk is liquid but solidifies into an extremely resilient strand when it contacts air. It is not squirted out but pulled out, by a spider’s leg or anchored to a twig.

A spider either ambushes, actively hunts or uses a web to catch its prey. Interesting fact about spiders is there is no consistent relationship between the classification of spiders and the types of web they build. Some species of spiders in the same genus may build very similar or significantly different webs.

How to you sex a spider? You look at the palps, the appendages near the mouthparts. The male has large palps with bulbous ends, they look like boxing gloves, he uses these to deposit sperm into the female. In comparison the female has long thin palps.


THERE ARE FOUR MAIN SPIDER WEB SHAPES: COB WEB, SHEET WEB, FUNNEL WEB AND ORB WEB.

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cob web

The cob or tangle web often looks messy, but there’s a strategy.

This tangle of irregular webs is secured in place with strands of high-tension catch threads that are lined with sticky droplets.

A crawling or flying insect breaks a tension/catch strand and is drawn up into the collapsing web.


Sheet web

Sheet webs are deadly hammocks, strung across grass or leaves.

Above this matt of webs are crisscrossing sticky threads which trip a flying insect into the hammock below.


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FUNNEL WEB

A funnel web is impressive to see. A sheet of web spans the entire exterior with a small funnel-like tube leading to a silken burrow in which the spider hides.

The entire web is used to entangle the prey.

The spider waits in the funnel for prey to fall onto the horizontal web. When the web vibrates it rushes out, grabs the prey, and takes it back to the funnel to consume.


orb web

Orb webs are wheel-shaped webs designed to capture flying insects. The ladder like frames are made of durable silk, while the spokes are made of an elastic capture thread which is lined with sticky droplets to secure the prey.

The classic wheel web is the shape most people associate with spiders, however the majority of spiders build non-orb webs and many spin no webs at all.

All spiders make silk but only about half of the known spider species catch prey by means of webs. The Ogre-Faced, Bolas, Saltids, Lynx and other spider families are just some types of spiders that do not build webs.


BELOW ARE SOME OF THE SPIDERS THAT CAN BE SEEN IN OR AROUND WEST 11TH STREET PARK DURING THE YEAR.

Garden Spider

Black and yellow orb-weaver spider spins enormous webs with a thick strands that zigzags in the center, they are part of the Araneidae family.

You can often see its spoke wheel shaped web near plants or in the garden in August.

This spider builds a new, flat web every day. Generally, towards evening, the spider will consume the old web, rest for approximately an hour and then spin a new web in the same general location.

The females are larger than the males. This spider tends to be active during the evening hours; they hide for most of the day.


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Wolf Spider

This hairy and fast moving outdoor spider is a wanderer and can be found in a forest or garden in the month of June.

They are members of the family Lycosidae. Look for it on the ground or on low plants after dark.

This spider lives mostly in solitude and is a robust hunter. It seeks out and very quickly attacks insects instead of spinning a web to trap their prey.

They will bite you, but you must provoke them. Their venom is not a medical threat.


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Arrow Shaped spider

The Micrathena sagittata is a small outdoor spider is commonly found in the woods in the month of August.

The Arrow spider is one of the few spiders which bite their prey first and then wrap the insect up in silk to eat later.

This orb web spider builds a spoked wheel-shaped web to capture its prey. The frame or lattice threads are made of durable silk, while the spokes are elastic threads lined with sticky droplets to secure its meal

 


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flower crab spider

The spider family Thomisidae, commonly known as Flower Crab Spiders, is often sighted in gardens and woods during the month of May

These spiders do not build webs to trap prey; instead they sit on or besides flowers and grab passing insects

Their bite is not toxic to humans; it is similar to a bee sting.


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grass spider

The Agelenopsis is a fast moving spider that will wait until insects wander into the funnel web and get tangled and then the spider will pounce.

In general, the bigger the web usually means the bigger the spider. These funnel webs are most visible after a rain, when the water clings to the silk web and reflects the light.

This spider produces silk for constructing the web, producing a dragline from the web and protecting its eggs.


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Spitting spider

The Scytode is a tiny spider can be usually found at night on the ground, slowly wandering around, or simply not moving at all.

It typically stalks prey to within 10-15 mm and then “spits”. It subdues its prey with a spray of venom-soaked silk and glue. This spit actually shrinks afterwards, helping to constrict the prey.

Once the prey is immobile, the spider moves in to bite and then injects venom, which liquefies the internal parts of the insect.