Spiders: The Eight-Legged Hunters

by Myles

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Spiders may be the most terrifying species on earth; no one wants anything to do with them.  However, they’re actually one of the most interesting. As for those who don’t care for spiders, they may not know or even understand their interesting qualities. Like Daddy Long Legs, for example.

Daddy Long Legs are most commonly considered spiders that don’t instinctively harm humans. As usual, people that do not understand spiders are corrected. Two experts by the names of Danielle and Noel from lhric.org, they found out that Daddy Long Legs are not spiders because they have six eyes instead of eight. Not only that, Daddy Long Legs are 1-20 mm in body length and 0.04 to 0.9 inches in length. Though being very small, Daddy Long Legs are venomous creatures.

In 2004, the TV show Myth Busters examined the myth regarding the effects of being bitten by a Daddy Long Leg. Many people believe that these spiders’ venom is the most poisonous, but that their teeth are not strong enough to puncture human skin.  One of the cast members were bitten by a single Daddy Long Leg. Though the “victim” reported mild burns in the punctured area, the pain quickly disappeared, just as it does with smaller insects that are bitten. This disproved this myth. The venom does affect an animal/human, but doesn’t cause death. Another interesting quality is the spider’s web.

Spider webs are the most common identifier of a spider’s presence. As many know, spiders construct their web or otherwise known as silk; they are common in areas of being strung are trees, bushes, blades of grass, and homes. They’re able to do this is by producing chains of amino acids, primarily glycine and alanine. Spider webs are five times stronger than steel and can stretch 30% longer than its original length. The reason how it can be so strong and flexiable, because from how quickly and tightly the silk is strung. This technique is what causes the webbing to be so strong and is why their prey have a hard time trying to escape.

There are many types of spider webs; funnel webs made by arachnids for tunnel-like habitats, orb webs that insects fly into, sheet webs made by Linyphiidae for capturing animals, and cobwebs made by cobweb spiders for capturing their prey inside homes. So anywhere spiders go, they create their nest completely made out of silk that are not only used for trapping their prey, but also living in the very spot their prey is tangled in.

On August 6, 2007, at Lake Tawakoni Park, rangers, who had been absent for two weeks, returned to find that the entire park was covered with several web sheets. The trees, bushes, and ground were covered. The webs that were tangling trees, the ground, and especially the bushes were intended to trap the animals in the forest. Web sheets have two layers; the first layer isn’t as sticky as the second layer, but its purpose is to scare animals into thinking they’re caught so they’ll break the layer into the sticky second layer. From here they are easier prey.

With webs strong enough to capture animals practically our size, spiders dramatically affect most people, resulting in Arachnophobia. Arachnophobia is an overwhelming fear of spiders in which even the sight of an empty web could cause panic.  However, there are also many cultures that love spiders and consider them a natural resource. Many Europeans ate them as much the French eat snails. So with spiders being so popular in so many ways, where does their reign of terror and deliciousness begin and end?

In Greek Mythology, there was a beautiful woman named Arachne who loved to weave tapestries. Her work was adored by others so much that she became arrogant and boastful. So she announced that she was the greatest weaver in the world, even better than the goddess Athena. Such a comment not only insulted Athena, but also the other Gods. So when Athena heard, she came down from Mount Olympus and threatened to kill Arachne. Though as she began to strike, Arachne offered Athena one of her best carpets and suprisingly changed the Goddess’s mind. Instead of killing Arachne, Athena challenged her to a weaving contest to see if Arachne’s comment was true.

The victor was no other than Arachne who not only won, but even impressed Athena. However, because she challenged the gods, Arachne was punished by Athena with the company of Zeus and turned her into what was once known as an insect, but is now known as a spider today. Today spiders are not known as insects or bugs, where we named the species “Arachnid” from the woman who challenged the gods.

There are many reasons to respect spiders.  First of all, they’re actually important to us humans. Without spiders, places that have crops with a large amount of vegetation would be consumed by insects, because they wouldn’t have a predator to prevent them from eating food primarily for humans. Most importantly, spiders are a form of protectors. As there are insects that like to bite humans for our blood, spiders can isolate insects away from us.

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