Spooky spiders

WARNING: Do not keep scrolling if you don’t like photos of spiders – this contains a few!

So I had an idea to do a post about spiders as I’d been looking up spider facts to tell my kids. We’ve seen so many of them recently while out and about, my daughter has started calling it ‘spider season’. However, I wanted to take some photos and all the spiders have disappeared! I should have guessed this would happen as the weather has turned a bit colder so they are all retreating to warmer places, like our houses. Hooray say the spider haters among us.

However don’t be too hard on these little fellas as they can actually provide a pretty good service when they come into your home. One that you often see in a house is the Pholcid spider, also known as daddy long leg spiders (not to be confused with actual daddy long legs aka the crane fly – if in doubt count the legs, the crane flies have 6 and the spiders 8).

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Anyway these guys are pretty cool. They might look unassuming with their tiny bodies and long legs but they are in fact top of a food chain consuming a number of things including wasps, flies, bees and even other house spiders (yep that’s right, the bigger meaner scarier looking ones). They are pretty devious about it as well pretending to be caught in another spider’s web and then pouncing on them when they come near. Plus they are not at all harmful to us. All spiders are venomous. However, the Pholcid spider’s jaw is too weak to pierce human skin and even if they could their venom would be no harm to us.

So here are some other funky facts about our 8 legged friends:

  • Like insects (but not to be confused with them) they have an exoskeleton. This means instead of having bones on the inside (like us) they have a rigid covering on their outside. When they grow this has to be shed. If you are lucky you can sometimes find these lovely little exoskeletons that are no longer needed.
  • They have 2 body parts and 8 legs. Also often 8 eyes. Strangely though they can’t always see very well but instead use the sense of feel to find out what they capture in their webs.
  • The silk spiders use to spin their webs is super strong. It  has an amazing tensile strength (how much stress it can withstand before breaking), which is thought to be higher than steel for the same given weight.
  • Young spiders can do something called ballooning. This is using their silk like a parachute to fly through the air to sent up camp elsewhere. Slightly more beautiful than a grumpy young adult off to university…
  • The webs can be spun into different shapes (depending on the spider) such as funnels, tubes and sheets, as well as your classic cobweb.
  • There are no dangerous spiders in the UK (well except those ones that hitch a ride in on a bunch of bananas).

So go forth and find spiders. Inside, outside, look for webs and get all Halloween-y. And just be thankful we don’t have any beasts like this in the UK:

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Spider seen in a forest in Costa Rica (yes it was right by my foot and I didn’t notice until my kind husband pointed it out to me. No I didn’t take the photo – I sent him back to do that after I’d moved away!). These guys are about the size of a small plate and eat birds. Yep birds.

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These beauts live all around the outside of my Grandpa’s house in Australia. Have no idea what species it is or if it’s deadly (don’t think so) but makes me kind of love the little ones we get in the UK!

Spider facts from various websites (ZSL and Discover Wildlife) and my brain.

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