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All About Spiders
This page is dedicated to my favorite of all creatures: spiders.
Sure, some people think that they're gross, or scary, or yucky, but not me.
I like them, always have, and always will (unless one bites me and I die).
If you'd like to learn more about spiders, then read more on this page. I've included lots of links to websites about spiders to expand your knowledge.
- - - - What is a spider? - - - -
Are spiders insects? Nope! They're part of a group called arachnids. Spiders are related to insects, kinda like distant cousins. Insects, crabs, lobsters, centipedes, millipedes, and arachnids are all part of the group called arthropods (a group of animals that have segmented bodies). Spiders have two body parts and insects have three body parts. For more on arthropods, see: "Arthropods: The Largest Animal Group." Check out these diagrams of spiders, insects, and other arthropods.
How many legs do spiders have? They have eight legs (unless one gets chopped off). Insects have six legs (unless one gets eaten by a spider). Each leg has lots of hairs to sense the movement of nearby prey. Each leg is divided into seven parts (coxa, trochanter, femur, patella, tibia, metatarus, tarsus). Oh, a jumping spider can jump 25 times its height. That's a long way for such a small creature. Check out three diagrams of a spider and its leg.
How do spiders capture their prey? They use two methods: some spiders build a sticky web or and other spiders rely on their quickness or speed. 1st method: Surprise! The crab spider can jump on their prey. The trapdoor spider hides in a hole, then lunges out to capture unsuspecting nearby prey, and drags it back into its lair. Scary! 2nd method: sticky silk. Many spiders use the silk that comes from their spinnerets to catch insects that fly or wander by. Some spiders cast nets on passing bugs. Some spiders spit at passing prey (watch these three high-speed videos). Take this tough quiz on webs or visit this site on silk to learn more about webs. If you want to watch a tarantula capture a floor mouse, then check out this video. Would you like to see a video of a jumping spider leaping from one flower to another, and landing on a bee? Sometimes, they just sit on a long leaf and wait for a victim, like a frog, to wander by. Watch this fishing spider capture his dinner.
Where on Earth do spiders live? They live on every continent except Antarctica.
How do spiders reproduce? They lay thousands of eggs in an egg sac. Now, that's a lot of spider diapers. To see a video of the mating rituals of a black widow spider and the egg sac that the female produces, check out this National Geographic video.
Are spiders good parents? Well, what we want to know is do they protect their babies from predators? The black widow female does, so don't try to mess with her. Ever.
What do you call a baby spider? Baby spiders are called spiderlings. Of course, when 1,000 come out of an egg sac, the mother would have a difficult time naming each and remembering who is who since they'd all be twins (x 100) and look alike. Click here if you want to see lots of spiderlings. Did you know that spiderlings molt once (because they grow bigger) inside the egg sac before crawling out.
Are spiders dangerous to humans? Two spiders can be very dangerous to humans (especially small children): the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. Stay away from both! All other types of spiders in America are relatively harmless to humans. Of course, if you're a fly, then you'd better stay away from all spiders just to be safe or you might end up having dinner with a spider (and being the dinner). Thankfully, no one has died from a bite from either spider in the past two decades. Check out this spider identification chart. Read these myths about spiders. Check out wikipedia's article on spider bites. What are the symptoms of a black widow bite and what should you do (go to hospital). Did you know that there have not been any confirmed deaths to humans from tarantula bites? It's true. They hurt like a bee sting, but aren't deadly to humans.
How do people get rid of spiders? People step on spiders to kill them. Or, they use poisons.
Where do spiders live? Spiders can live almost anywhere that they can find food. They live in places where bugs crawl or fly by (so that they can capture and eat them. They live in hidden spots where bugs travel (under logs, in corners, in branches, under houses. Do they live on the Word Wide Web (www)? Read this digital book to find out.
How long do spiders live? Do they live for a day, a week, a year, or lots of years? Black widows live for up to 3 years, while tarantulas may live for 10-12 years.
How do spiders affect plants, animals, and people? Spiders help humans by eating the bugs that annoy us. Without spiders, there would be too many annoying insects flying around our food, biting us, and getting in our way. Of course, they also eat non-pests that help gardens (bees, butterflies, preying mantises, and some beetles).
What predators hunt spiders? As tough as a spider is, there are many other creatures that prey on spiders. Wasps are a formidable opponent (video). Other spiders will kill a smaller spider and eat it. Reptiles, birds, and some mammals hunt them, too.
How do spiders protect themselves from an enemy? There are four ways to protect themselves. They can try to escape (RUN). They can hide (camouflage). They can try to frighten them with an aggressive stance. They can attack, using their venom.
Where are spider ears? Spiders do not have ears. They can tell where a sound comes from by the movement of air on the hair on its legs.
Do spiders see well? Yes and No. Spiders that build webs to catch prey have bad eyesight. They use the hairs on their legs to feel the vibrating web (signaling that a bug has gotten stuck). Jumping spiders have excellent vision, as they need to see their prey.
Do spiders like to eat flies? Well, that would mean that they'd have taste receptors like humans. Humans have taste receptors on their tongues: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Spiders use taste-sensitive receptors on their legs to see if a captured prey is edible.
How big are spiders? The Goliath spider can be as big as a dinner plate. That's BIG! Most spiders you'll see are smaller than one of your knuckles. The smallest spider in the world is the Patu digua from Borneo and it is as big as the head of a pin. That's tiny.
Do spiders live by themselves or with others? Do they live by themselves or with other spiders? Are they friendly to each other or do they chase each other away?
Are spiders active during the daylight or darkness? They are active at night. In the daytime, they tend to hide in holes, cracks, or other safe places away from predators.
What do you call someone who studies spiders? They are called an arachnologist. A scientist who studies bugs is called an ectomologist. Here are some more websites: If you'd like to learn what an arachnologist does, then read more about Paula E. Cushing. A person who studies poisons is a toxicologist. They might be needed to determine the type of spider that bit someone.
- - Types of spiders - -
Black widow: This is a seriously dangerous spider, with venom that might make you sick or die. Never touch one. Ever! Thankfully, the smaller male does not bite. They're easy to find, as they're jet black with a red hour-glass shape on their belly. They're called "widow" because the female is prone to eating the male after mating (so they usually run away after mating, quickly). She'll try to escape if you get too close, unless she's guarding her egg sac. She may live for up to 3 years.
Brown recluse: This spider is quite dangerous, but you won't see it much. They're abdomen is dark gray or brown. They tend to bite when disturbed, so stay away from places where they might hide. They're more common in Texas and nearby states, not California.
Tarantula: These large, hairy spiders are relatively non-dangerous to humans. In fact, lots of kids have them as pets. One even lived for One even lived for 30 years. Most are brown or black. Many have bald spots on the back end of their abdomen, as they will rub the hairs off the hind end to irritate the eyes of predators. They live alone and are generally nocturnal. Click here to see a short video about tarantulas.
Garden Spiders: Thee colorful spiders scare the willies out of most people, but they're only dangerous to you if you're a fly. The yellow & black argiope is quite beautiful. Cornell Univ has several photos of common garden spiders.
Goliath bird-eating spider: These are the largest spiders in the world, as large as a dinner plate, but you won't see one in your back yard (unless you live in a South American jungle).
Wolf spider: These spiders are indeed kind mothers, carrying their spiderlings on their backs.
Fishing spider: These quick spiders can dart into the water after prey (insect, minnow).
Daddy Longlegs: Well, the truth is, we humans keep mixing up these many-legged creatures. There are two types of daddy longlegs. One is a spider and one is not. 1) One daddy long legs is a spider, with the very long legs. It often builds its nest under houses or in cellars. When sensing danger, it'll shake its web, making it difficult for the predator to see it. 2) The other type is not a spider, though it looks like one, with long, long legs. Watch this video to see one in action, eating aphids and escaping from a hungry beetle.
Funnel web grass spider: This is one of the most common spiders you'll see outside. They're harmless to humans. They build a large funnel-shaped web that is not sticky. When a bug lands on it, the spider rushes out, bites it, and drags it into its lair. Mmmmmm. Dinner. They have 4-8 eyes.
- - Photos & Videos of spiders - -
1. Diagram: Check out this diagram of a spider's body parts. Here's the head, the belly button, and the nose (kidding).
2. Videos: The BBC has posted several insect and spider videos that you might want to see. Or, watch a four-minute video on spiders, with lots of close-up shots of spiders walking, catching bugs, building webs. Or, check out this collection of 57 spider videos at Fotosearch.
3. Animation: Watch this cool animation about spiders. Or, if you want to laugh, watch this animation where a spider will follow your pointer, wherever you move your cursor on the page. It's funny to watch. Or, if you'd like to see a very cool animated movie about a spider, a ladybug, and lots of flies, well, then this short movie is what you want to see. Or, watch a spider build a web. Or, check out these virtual insects and spiders to see a 3-D computerized version.
4. Microscope: Look through an electron microscope at a spider's eye.
5. Photos: Here are over one thousand photos at fotosearch.com. More photos. Or, if you'd like to see a tree completely covered in a spider's web, then check this out. Or, look at a spider's sensory organs. Or, links to lots of sites with spider photos. Or, if you'd like to see lots of photos of webs: webs: more webs, and hundreds of webs.
6. Graphic photo: Take a look at the spinnerets that produce a spider's web.
7. Photo slideshow: Look at this slideshow of an egg sac being built by a spider.
8. Clipart: Here is some clipart on spiders, mites, and scorpions.
9. PowerPoint: Check out these PowerPoint slideshows made for kids (and some made by kids). Here's "Amazing Facts About Arachnids" PowerPoint, created by a third-grade class. Or, this "Spiders" PowerPoint made by Pioneer's Schools. Or, this "Helpful Hunters" PowerPoint. Or, this "Insects & Spiders" PowerPoint. Or this cute animation to use in a PowerPoint.
10. Charts: USA Spider Identification Chart,
- - Fun spider activities - -
Games: 1) Play Super Hyper Spider Typer is an addictive typing game that will drive you crazy with happiness. 2) Play the spitting spider game. 3) Or, play this game with spiders. 4) Count the spiders.
Jigsaw Puzzles: Four spider puzzles , or a spiderweb jigsaw puzzle with 63 pieces, or a very challenging web puzzle, or a 16-piece tarantula puzzle, or a challenging puzzle of spiders and ladybugs, or a 6-piece (very easy) spider jigsaw puzzle, or another spider web (with 12, 48, 88, or 100 pieces)
Crossword: A short, interactive spider crossword puzzle (6 words).
Postcards: Make a postcard
Quizzes: Take a quiz at BrainPop on spiders.
Comics: Here are 30 comics about spiders.
- - 10 spider facts - -
1. Spiderlings are colorless.
2. There are almost 40,000 species of spiders on this planet.
3. Most spiders have poor eyesight.
4. Some people eat tarantulas. Mmmmmmmmm.
5. Spiders don't chew their food. They slurp it up like a milkshake.
6. Spiders have lots of hairs on their body to sense the movement of prey.
7. The spider's exoskeleton does not grow as it gets bigger, so it must molt (shed its skin).
8. Spiders have a heart and lungs.
9. Spiders travel by foot (walking), but some travel by ballooning (letting a stream of silk go into the air and using it as a balloon to ride the wind).
10. Spiders are your friend because they eat annoying pests (flies).
- - famous spiders - -
2. Itsy-Bitsy Spider: Listen to the song or print the sheet music for the song. This popular nursery rhyme has many versions posted at You Tube. You can see the lyrics of lots of nursery rhymes in English & Spanish at this website.
4. Spiderman's radioactive spider: When Peter Parker got bit by a radioactive spider, it transferred its strength and awareness of enemies to him, helping him become a great super hero.
5. Aragog: Hagrid raised this giant spider from an egg, but had to let it go in a nearby forest.
6. Ananse: Ananse, or Anansi, is a character in a lot of African tales. He's part human and part spider, often used to explain something natural (in a magical or supernatural way). Wikipedia has a description of this character. Here's a cute diagram of how the man became the spider-man.
7. Old lady who swallowed a spider: Remember that song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, and a spider, "that wriggled and jiggled and wiggled insider her"?
8. Miss Spider: from the book series.
9. The spider from the book Diary of a Spider (and Diary of a Fly, and Diary of a Worm) by Doreen Cronin
- - spider stories - -
Anansi Stories (African): There are many stories about Anansi (or Ananse), brought to the Americans in the horrible slave trade, told and retold in the new continents, some keeping to their earlier versions and others changing. "How stories came to earth" (Anansi), or "Anansi and the Tiger" , or "Anansi and the Banana Tree", or "Anansi Does the Impossible", or "Anansi and His Six Sons", or "Anansi and Firefly", or "Anansi Tries to steal All the Wisdom of the World", or "Ashanti and the Turtle"
Songs: "I Wouldn't Harm a Fly" poem
A story from China: The Myth of the Spider,
Greek stories: In Greek mythology, Athena is the goddess of wisdom and a great sewer. Arachne, a poor girl, bragged about how good she could sew and... Here is a version of her story. And, shorter version of her story and some questions.
Native American stories: Here is a story from New Mexico called "Spider Creation." And another called "How Grandmother Spider Brought Fire to the People." And, a story about leadership in "The Spider's Eyes."
Buddhist story: Here's a spider story that speaks about how we treat others when we have the upper hand called "The Spider Thread."
American stories: Here is an A-Z story book on Charlotte's Web.
- - spider vocabulary - -
abdomen: the belly of a spider in which the vital organs reside
arachnid: a spider
arachnophobia: the fear of spiders
camouflage: to use the coloration of one's surroundings to hide
cephalothorax: the combined chest & head region of a spider
exoskeleton: the hard outer covering of a spider or insect
fangs: the hollow tubes that spiders use to inject venom
molt: to shed one's skin
pedipalps: extra hands near the fangs of a spider
predator: the hunter
prey: the hunted
silk: the sticky substance that comes from a spider's spinnerets
spiderling: a baby spider
spinnerets: the tubes through which spiders secrete silk
web: the sticky trap a spider spins to catch prey
Quiz = Study these vocabulary words then take Clark's quiz to see if you've learned about the spider.
- - Quizzes on spiders - -
1. Clark's quiz on spider vocabulary (Quia)
2. Spider bites and insect stings (Mayo Clinic)
3. Weaving spiders quiz (classroom)
4. Non-weaving spiders quiz (classroom)
5. 10 questions spiders quiz (Encarta)
6. Spider sense quiz (soft schools.com)
7. 6-question quiz on spiders (bbc)
8. Charlotte's Web 5-question quiz (teacher vision)
9. 5-question spider quiz (green nature.com)
10. An article on spiders and a 15-question quiz (English-zone)
11. A 12-question quiz on spider body parts = very challenging
12. 10-question quiz on Creepy-crawly quiz (MSN)
13. 10-question Creepy-crawly quiz (MSN)
14. Take MyQuiz 10-question quiz on this website
- - School websites (.k12) - -
1. Different kinds of spiders (California)
2. Spiders unit (Ohio)
3. Spiders (Louisiana)
4. Amazing Insects (Illinois)
5. Let's Learn about Spiders (Hawaii)
6. Spider Specialists webquest (Massachusetts)
7. Spiders (Indiana)
8. Spider Central (New York)
9. Spider facts (New Jersey)
10. Spiders (Indiana)
11. Spiders (West Virginia)
12. Spiders (Minnesota)
13. Spiders (West Virginia)
14. Spiders (New York)
15. Spider Resouces (Canada)
- - College websites (.edu) - -
1. Spider Facts (UC Davis)
2. Spide Facts (Florida State Univ)
3. Spider Information (Univ of Arizona)
4. Spiders (Kennesaw State University)
5. Spiders (Univ of Riverside)
6. Spiders (Univ of Arkansas)
7. Myths, Misconceptions, and Superstitions about Spiders (Univ of Washington)
8. Spiders (Palomar Community College)
9. Daddy Longlegs myth (UC Riverside)
- - Government websites (.gov) - -
1. Look out! A spider! (US Dept of Agriculture)
2. Daddy Long-legs Spider Fact File (Australian Museum)
3. First aid for a spider bite (Georgia Dept of Human Resources)
4. Black Widow (Dept of Natural Resources)
5. Brown Recluse (Dept of Natural Resources)
6. Insects, Spiders, Centipedes, Millipedes (US Dept of the Interior)
7. Common Missouri Spiders (Missouri Dept of Conservation)
8. Spiders: Introduction & General Information (Australia)
9. Golden-silk Spider (US Dept of the Interior)
10. Violin spiders (Dept of Public Health)
- - Organizations websites (.org) - -
1. Spiders (pocantico hills.org)
2. Insect & Spider Collections of the World (bishop museum.org)
3. Spider bites (CA Poison Control System.org)
4. Spider silk and webs (arachnology.org)
5. Monsters of the Forest (pbs.org)
6. Getting to know spiders (pesticide.org)
7. Spider pavilion (Natural History Museum of LA.org)
8. Spider (Denver Museum of Nature & Science.org)
9. Spiders (Smithsonian education.org)
10. Jumping Spiders (salticidae.org)
11. Neat things about spiders (american human.org)
- - Commercial websites (.com) - -
1. Facts and More Facts about Spiders (tooter4kids.com)
2. Insects & Spiders of New Zealand (land care research.co)
3. Insects & Spiders (eNature.com)
4. Spiders (spiderz rule.com)
5. 10 Myths about Spiders (Articles 2K.com)
6. Spiders (Kids Konnect.com)
- - more websites - -
1. 2,500 links at Arachnology (Belgium)
Sources: All of the information on this website was acquired through using Google to search for information and activities related to spiders.
Spider image acquired from the Univ of Ark: http://www.uark.edu/~dksander/spideran.gif
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Advice to my students on authoring their own Animal page
1. Use primary sources whenever possible. These are sources with video or images of the animal you're studying. These are web sites that are built by large organizations (like the discovery channel). You'll come across student websites and adult websites, but these are secondary sources (and less reliable in their information).
2. Be aware that some websites lack scientific facts. Or, they include a few scientific facts while trying to promote a hidden agenda. Not everything that you see at a website is supported by science. Be skeptical and don't believe everything you read. Look at other websites to see if they also make the same claim. Information that is found on a lot of websites has more validity than information found only on one website.
3. Use Videos that demonstrate a behavior of your animal. Don't post funny or dangerous videos just because you find them online. The most popular and prolific use of videos is hosted by You Tube. Here, you'll find many videos of your animal. However, any video that encourages violence or humor at the expense of your animal should NOT be included on your page. If you include a video, explain what it tells about your animal and be sure that it is factual (not humorous).
4. You are expected to be the EXPERT on your animal. Every website that you link needs to be read in its entirety by you. You should know the facts it tells. Expect me to quiz you on any links you include.
5. Do not copy & paste information. Read what a website says about your animal. Then, put it into your own words. I can easily tell the difference between how you speak and how website authors speak.
6. If you find coloring pages or fun games about your animal, be sure that they're appropriate for other students to do. Make sure that there are not any immodest advertisements on the page or images in the game. If there is a lot of violence in the game, then it isn't appropriate to post on my website. I will delete any games that I find inappropriate. If you're uncertain about a game, then ask me before posting it to your page.
7. Use my page as a guide for what you should do.