Halloween’s creepiest critter

Spider Image: Sweet Crisis @ FreePhoto.com

If there is one creature that inspires the most fear in the most people it’s spiders. While I don’t know any statistics on the matter, I think spiders would outrank snakes on the phobia scales.

From Shelob in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings movies to the packs of spiders in Aracnaphobia or the creepy little spiders hiding in every nook and cranny in Arachnid and the funny, scary Eight Legged Freaks, spiders are terror movie heaven. Seeing an oversized one of these creatures spring out of some dark nook is guaranteed to make us jump in our seats. Spiders are the creepy crawly we love to hate.

This being halloween, the night we cheerfully let spiders decorate our doors, let me give you a few fun tidbits of knowledge that may just help you love the little (and big) things all year round.

  1. Spiders are Arachnids, they have 8 legs and 2 body segments. The head, stomach and legs are all found on the front part, the cephalthorax (cephla means head and thorax means chest), the spinnerets are found in the back part, called the abdomen.
  2. Although all spiders spin silk, not all spiders make webs. Some spiders are great hunters and they will lie in wait for their prey. Some will chase it down and jump on it.
  3. Spiders are mostly beneficial because they eat a lot of insects. Some spiders even eat other spiders.
  4. A few spiders are harmful to humans but, thanks to modern medicine, venomous spider bites are treatable.
  5. There are three families of spiders that do not have venom glands and do not produce venom. One is found only in Tasmania, one family is found in Southeast Asia, while the Uloboridae, or the hackled orb weavers are found nearly world wide.
  6. One kind of spider, the golden silk orb weaver, makes silk that is yellow in color. Most are found in warm areas like Australia, parts of Africa and parts of Asia. One species, Nephila clavipes, can be found in southern parts of the US.
  7. A cloth was woven from the silk of over 1 million of the Madagascar spiders. Be sure to check that link, it’s amazing!
  8. In the winter months some spiders will die, some will come inside seeking warmth, some will hibernate and some will build a little nest of silk under leaves or in crevices to ride out the cold months.

What spiders can you find in your neighborhood? The National Wildlife Federation has made a spider bingo scavenger hunt to help you find out. This is most likely a southern hemisphere and southern state kind of Halloween game. An alternative for the northern dwellers is to use the card to search for information in the library and save the outside activity for summer.

Happy Halloween!

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