Spiders!

 

 

SpiderThere is always a spider within three feet of you … including right now!

Most of us have no love for spiders.  Perhaps it’s their eight legs….or their eight eyes (decent creatures only have two!).  Maybe it’s the way they catch other creatures, or the fact that they inject poison.  Possibly it’s the hair on their bodies, or even the shape of their abdomens.  Whatever the reason, they are low on the list of “favored creatures” among humans.
 

Of course, this phobia is not lost to many entrepreneurs.  Many movies have been made that depict people’s worst nightmares about spiders.  The Halloween market is full of them.  But, let’s take a closer look, and learn a few facts about them…

 

Spiders belong to a wider group of arthropods knows as arachnids (any creature that has eight legs).  This group includes other cuddly specimens such as mites, ticks and scorpions.  But, spiders have some characteristics that are unique to them.  For example, spiders have two major body parts – a cephalothorax and an abdomen.

 Jumping Spider

Spiders come in two basic forms – the hunters (like the little jumping spider on the right) and the weavers (that spin webs to catch prey).  Even though all spiders are poisonous, very few are dangerous to humans.  Only two dangerous ones are found in the US: the black widow, which is found mainly in the southwest, and the brown recluse, which is found over a much wider area.

 

 

Very few people realize just how beneficial spiders really are.  According to a study of spiders initiated in England and Holland, there are 131 spiders per square meter, most of which are very small.  But, here’s the interesting part:  If you average out the actual weight of the “bug juice” consumed by these spiders, then multiply that by the number of square meters in the world where spiders live, you come up with an astonishing figure.  Spiders of the world consume over 1,870,000,000 lbs. of bug food PER DAY!!  If we say that the average human weighs 150 lbs., then spiders eat the equivalent weight of over 12,400,000 people PER DAY!!!  Now, imagine if spiders (and other beneficial creatures, like bats) went on a hunger strike for a week!  All those bugs wouldn’t get eaten!

 

Spiders, and all arachnids, can breed very rapidly.  A spider exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute contended that if a one-acre plot of grass is allowed to grow without being mowed throughout the growing season, there could be, at the end of the period, up to 10 million spiders in there!

 

Dust MiteThe same exhibit maintained that there is always a spider within 3 feet of you – including right Eyelash Mitenow!!  (QUICK!  Better find it!)  In fact, it’s “worse” than you imagined - you have arachnids on you already!  Look at the creature to the left.  It’s a dust mite.  They’re living all over you!  And, what about the creature to the right?  It’s called an “eyelash mite”.  That’s right, they live in the follicles of your eyelashes! The lower picture shows the tail  end of three mites crammed into one follicle, with the eyelash to the left.  Neat, huh?  And, guess what!….you can’t get rid of any of these!!!

  3 Eyelash Mites crammed into one follicle

By the way, consider spider silk for a moment.  All spiders can spin it, and for various purposes (egg sacs, escape lines, etc.), but the orb spinners are the ones that make webs in which to catch bugs.  The main lines that anchor the webs are very strong – much stronger than steel!  They are also very elastic.  It has been estimated that if spider silk could be spun to the thickness of a pencil, it would be strong enough to stop a Boeing 747 jumbo jet in full flight!!  

Spiders!  The result of random chance?  Or brilliantly designed little engineers made to do a specific job.

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Last updated 07/17/2012