Black Widow
Black Widow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spiders are arachnids and are best described as eight-legged arthropods that lack antennae. They have spinnerets that spin silk from up to six different glands found in their abdomen. Spiders produce this silk for their webs or homes in which they use to catch prey. Some spiders will also ambush their prey from burrows, or other harborage. Spiders have fangs that can inject venom with varying levels of toxicity.

Spiders are very common pests. There are 40,000 different species of spiders in the world, and some 3,000 are found in North America. They are found on all continents except Antarctica, and scientists predict that only half of the world’s spiders have been discovered.

All spiders are carnivorous. Most spiders eat insects, but some of the larger species of spiders have been known to eat small mammals like mice. There are even a few species that will eat small fish. After trapping its prey, a spider will inject digestive enzymes that will start breaking down its food from the inside-out. The partially digested food is then sucked up by the spider. Spiders are often times considered beneficial parts of an ecosystem because of the amount of other insects and other pests they eliminate, but most people find them repulsive and do not want them in or around their property.

While there are very few spiders in the United States that are really dangerous to humans, there are considerable numbers of poisonous spiders around the world. The black widow and recluse spiders have very toxic venom that can be life threatening to humans. Most spiders are shy and will only bite humans in self-defense, and few produce worse effects than a mosquito bite or bee-sting. There are approximately 100 reported deaths from spider bites in the 20th century.

Notable spiders:

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