8 Unusual Facts About Spiders

The eight eyes of the jumping spider.
The eight eyes of the jumping spider. | Source

How Many Eyes Do Spiders Have?

It depends on the spider! Some have up to 4 pairs of eyes, others have only 3 or 2 pairs. They are not compound eyes, like insects have and usually only one can form good images. The other eyes are only capable of detecting the direction from which the light is coming.

In the minds of most people spiders are dumped in the same set as other creepy crawlies, but they are not insects. They belong to the family of arachnids and are related to mites, scorpions and ticks

Spiders can be easily distinguished from insects because they have eight legs rather than six.

Spiders are the most numerous group of arachnids with 40,000 different species identified.

Are you afraid of spiders?

  • No, most of them are harmless, and it is spiders who should be afraid of humans.
  • Yes, I don't like them!
  • I am a complete arachnophobe. This article will give me nightmares for days.
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Spiders Digest Their Food Before Eating

Spiders cannot eat solid food. Instead they inject, or cover their prey with digestive enzymes, and wait for it to turn into a nutrient broth and then suck it up using their pharynx.

Once inside their stomachs the broth is digested further and nutrients are absorbed.

The female Southern black widow is up to 1.5" in length and has a characteristic red hourglass marking on its abdomen.  This species in found in the Southeastern US.
The female Southern black widow is up to 1.5" in length and has a characteristic red hourglass marking on its abdomen. This species in found in the Southeastern US. | Source
The Brazilian wandering spider, P. nigriventer,  might be the most venomous spider.
The Brazilian wandering spider, P. nigriventer, might be the most venomous spider. | Source

Most Spiders are Venomous

The vast majority of spiders produce neurotoxic venom with which they paralyse their prey. They have a pair of fangs, known as chelicerae, which are connected to a toxin gland. When the fangs stab their prey, they act as needles, injecting it with venom.

Most spider bites are no more dangerous to humans than a bee sting. In fact most spiders are too small, and their fangs too short to penetrate human skin. Of the 40,000 species, only about 200 have bites that are venomous to humans. In the US the most dangerous spiders are the black widow and the brown recluse spider.

Both species are actually very shy and they would much rather hide from humans than attack them. Unfortunately their hiding places can sometimes include places where a human will disturb them and they will bite in self defence.

Overall there are about 100 recorded deaths from spider bites in the last century. When you think of all the people who have died from other causes, this really represents a very small number.

The black widow spider venom is neurotoxic. It results in the release of excessive acetylcholine, norepinephrine and GABA neurotransmitters which prevent muscle relaxation. The venom initially causes severe pain around the bite area, but rapidly enters the circulatory system and affects muscles around the body, causing severe cramps. Complications can include severe kidney failure, heart problems or paralysis, but they are rare.

In contrast the bite of the brown recluse spider generally doesn't hurt. However the venom contains tissue destroying toxins, which lead to necrotic lesions, which leave scars even if they heal. There is no definitive treatment for the bites. It is thought that many lesions that are attributed to the bite of this spider, are in fact caused by other factors.

It is hard to definitely identify the most venomous spider. In 2010 the Guinness Book of Records bestowed that doubtful honour on the Brazylian wnadering spider found throughout South America. Its venom is definitely potentially deadly, it works by blocking calcium channels, leading to paralysis and possible asphyxiation.

However there is an effective antivenom against the spider, and experts believe that it often delivers dry bites, in which it doesn't inject venom, or only injects a small amount of venom. However, bites in which the spider injects a full does of its toxin are certainly very dangerous.

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A gold weaver spider on its orb webA sheet weaver spider's web.
A gold weaver spider on its orb web
A gold weaver spider on its orb web | Source
A sheet weaver spider's web.
A sheet weaver spider's web. | Source

All Spiders Produce Silk

All spiders have spinnerets on their abdomen (tummy) which produce silk. Each spinneret has numerous spigots, each of which is connected to a silk gland.

Spider silk is made mainly of protein. It has a similar tensile strength to nylon but is much more elastic so can be stretched very far before breaking. The silk is first liquid but then solidifies as it is stretched.

A spider can produce different types of silk, which have different functions. Some threads can be covered with glue droplets which helps trap insect prey.

The most familiar use for spider silk is the big orb-shaped webs that they use to catch their prey. However only some spiders are orb weavers. Other spiders construct funnel webs, or horizontal sheets with a few upwards-extending threads. An insect is caught by the thread, and shaken into the web below where it becomes entrapped.

Only some spiders use their silk to trap prey. Others like the trapdoor spider and tarantulas are ambush predators.

Spiders use their silk for many other purposes, including building shelter, encasing prey to immobilise it, protecting their egg capsules, and building parachutes and aqualungs.

Yes, you read the last two points correctly. Spiderlings (baby spiders) move around using threads of their silk as parachutes. They produce a few very fine threads, called gossamer, which get blown by the wind, taking the baby spider with them.

How Jumping Spiders Catch Their Prey

Diving Bell Spiders Live Underwater

Diving bell spiders, Argyroneta aquatica, are the only species that spend their whole lives underwater. Like all other spiders, they still need to breathe atmospheric air. They get around this problem by having an air bubble, which is held to their bodies by the fine hairs that cover them.

The female, also builds a bell shaped dome, out of spider silk, which is filled with air. She spends most of her life in her dome, only venturing outside to catch prey. She also lays her her eggs in it, and sits there to digest her food.

A pair of diving bell spiders underwater
A pair of diving bell spiders underwater | Source

Cobwebs Were Used in Traditional Medicine

Cobwebs, which form in the corners of any room, trapping dust and looking messy. However, in past centuries they were considered frequently used as dressings for wounds, because they were believed to stop bleeding.

I remember reading historical novels of valiant warriors in the 16th and 17th century, who would frequently sustain wounds in battle. Whenever they were hurt, there was always a call for cobwebs, which would be kneaded with bread and placed on the wounds.

So is there any truth in the ancient belief that cobwebs help? They are particularly rich in vitamin K, essential for blood clotting. So it is possible that they stopped brave heroes from bleeding to death. An important consideration in the days before blood transfusions.

Spiders Have Taken Part in Space Experiments

Yes, spiders have been astronauts. In 1973 experiments were conducted on how low gravity affects the structure of spider webs. Two European garden spiders, Anita and Arabella, were taken aboard skylab 3 and told to do their stuff.

The first attempt at spinning a web by Arabella was very unsuccessful. However later on she appeared to get her bearings and managed a much better web. It was still irregular compared to the orbs produced by these spiders under normal conditions. It appears that spiders require gravity to orient them when they are making their webs.

Astronaut Arabella spinning her web in low gravity on skylab3.
Astronaut Arabella spinning her web in low gravity on skylab3. | Source

Some Female Spiders Eat the Males After Mating, But Most Don't

Cannibalism is which the female eats her partner after mating is not actually all that common. Most males survive several matings and die of causes other than being eaten by the female.

Males are usually much smaller than females. To ensure that they are not mistaken for just a potential food item, when they first approach their bride, most spiders engage in complicated mating rituals. These might include signalling through special vibrations through her web, so the female knows that a male is approaching.

However is some species it is usual for the female to consume the male after a successful mating. This habit has given the black widow its name. The males don't appear to do much to defend themselves. It is thought that the extra nutrition can help the female produce healthy eggs and offspring, so the male is sacrificing himself for the sake of his offspring, so to speak.

Comments 44 comments

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I don't mind spiders. I remember dealing with black widows while living in California. I caught one walking towards my baby while he was playing on the floor. Interesting hub voted up and shared.

Toytasting profile image

Toytasting 3 years ago from Mumbai

aa, you have mentioned some really cool facts about spiders. Especially the fact that some female spiders eat the males after mating is amusing. Interesting and good to read.

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 3 years ago from Central Florida

Good article on spiders and their habits. Good thing there are none large enough to hunt humans (except in the movies) as getting turned into a liquid sounds like it would be a painful experience not to mention fatal.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks guys. I have to say I rather dislike spiders.........can't imagine having to deal with black widows walking towards a baby. As I was writing this yesterday, I found a spider in my sink. I was sitting on the side in the shadows and I almost missed it too. Aaaargh!

tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand

Spiders don't worry me at all, however I have never seen a very big spider. I have learned a lot of interesting information from your well written hub.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks tebo. I have to say I rather dislike them, I am not a complete arachnophobe, but I am bothered by them. What I particulaly dislike is how you often don't notice them until you suddenly realise that the place you were going to put your hand, has a spider sitting it it. If they announced their presence more obviously, like bees do for example, I wouldn't mind them so much.

But they are definitely very interesting.

vibesites profile image

vibesites 3 years ago from United States

I'm not afraid of spiders (as long as they don't purposely go towards me), I'm more afraid of cockroaches.

Thanks for differentiating spiders to insects. up and interesting.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks vibe sites. See roaches, I don't really mind, I mean they are dirty, but did you know that a roach body can live without it's head for days?

Robin profile image

Robin 3 years ago from San Francisco

Interesting Hub! At certain times of the year there are thousands of tiny spiders ballooning around our yard. I assume they are babies that have recently hatched. It's so fun to watch. They are amazing creatures!

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks Robin,

Yep, baby spiders ballooning around are very pretty! It doesn't seem like the most efficient way of travelling to be honest. But I guess if you are born as part of a very large family, and the first thought of your siblings is to eat you, you might want to just get away as fast as you can!

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

Congrats on the HOTD! I´m not afraid of spiders but I don´t like them. I usually killed them when they landed on my bed. Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative hub.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thank you Thelma. I was always told that killing spiders makes it rain, a silly superstition of course but I usually choose to let them live. They are actually incredibly useful in the ecosystem.

just helen profile image

just helen 3 years ago from Dartmoor UK

A fascinating hub! Spiders are our friends and should be respected, not hated. If you live in an old house they are useful for trapping and eating woodworm. Well, so I've heard!

Can you tell me how spiders move horizantally through thin air when they start to build a web? Often when walking in the forest we see threads from plant to plant. We speculate they fly! But now I wonder whether the parachute theory is the the correct one.

Jordan Hake profile image

Jordan Hake 3 years ago from Southwest Missouri, USA

*Eight* facts about spiders. Cute! :)

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

@just helen, thanks! My impression is that the parachuting or ballooning is only used by spiderlings to move around. I think when spiders start building a web, they will produce a long thread, as it is produces one end is carried away by air currents until it hits some solid object to which it sticks. The spider sticks the other end to where it is sitting, thus creating a horizontal bridge which the spider can cross.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Ha! You know that wasn't intentional at all!

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 3 years ago from India

Congratulations on the hub of the day

Amazing facts about spiders!

Very interesting read.

BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 3 years ago

Scary looking photos.

summerberrie 3 years ago

congrates aa lite! A worthy hub for sure!

marion langley profile image

marion langley 3 years ago from The Study

I had no idea we sent spiders to space or that a species lived underwater. What a fun read. Thanks for writing, voting up.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America

Congratulations on HOTD! The photos are pretty interesting, as well as your facts.

cyoung35 profile image

cyoung35 3 years ago from Corona, CA

I doubt if this will make anyone less afraid of spiders but it is real good information. This would have been a good hub to put out around Holloween.

rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

Congratulations on HOTD! This is an excellent and insightful article about spiders. Although most people are spooked by spiders, they do serve several purposes. In Canada we get quite a bit of produce shipped to our grocery stores from other countries and there have been a few cases of people actually finding black widow spiders in bags of grapes.............yikes! Now that would really scare the heck out of me, lol. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Congratulations on HOyTD aa and thanks for the fascinating spider facts. I have never understood why so many people are scared of spiders (which has always made me spider-remover in chief), as really they have so much more reason to be terrified of us.

DreamerMeg profile image

DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

I quite like spiders but then I live in a part of the world where there are no venomous spiders. I don't know how I would react to them if I lived where there was the possibility of dangerous spiders. They are very interesting creatures. As a teenager, I remember watching a jumping spider on a wall, stalking its prey and watching a common garden cross spider building its web and adding flies for it to eat!

Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

I've squashed my share of Black Widow spiders during my lifetime, aa. Great hub and videos too. Up it goes!

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Congrats on HOTD....Spiders are not among my most favorite creatures. I am ok with them as long as they keep their distance.

My Momma was bitten by a black widow and lived to tell, thank goodness.

A few weeks ago when I was out with my grandson I saw the coolest spider. I had never seen one like it before. It was very small and lime green. I tried to get a picture of it but just could not get close enough.

Thanks for sharing this info with us. Angels are on the way to you ps

melpor profile image

melpor 3 years ago from New Jersey, USA

Very informative and well written hub. Voted up.

jcYehweh 3 years ago

This is a great Hub. I not only enjoyed reading the text, I enjoyed playing the videos. After reading this Hub, I'm glad I was not born a male Black-Widow spider.

tvs290 profile image

tvs290 3 years ago from India,bangalore

Only if spiders were able to speak they could teach women hot eat men after sex Just like them..

NP.QUEEN profile image

NP.QUEEN 3 years ago from Dubai

Vast knowledge abt spiders. Well done. Great hub. Thank you.

Melissa A Smith profile image

Melissa A Smith 3 years ago from New York

They're adorable.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks Randy. Squashing Black are a brave man!

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thank you pstrauble48!

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks! Yep the males don't have it easy. But really all they care about is passing their genes on, and when the female eats them she gets good nutrition which helps her grow the youngsters.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author


aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author


aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

A rather unusual reaction to spiders. Glad you enjoyed them.

hubmuffins profile image

hubmuffins 3 years ago from Jaipur

I do not pay attention to them much. They are pretty much harmless. In my granny's house there are quite big spiders that rest on the wall and they are pretty thin. When I was a kid, I used to be afraid of them but now I've started ignoring them (I am still not fond of them though) . They mind their own business and I mind mine.

When they are hanging form something I just wave my finger across their thread and watch them start to climb to my finger. Its quite a funny sight. Then I place them in some safe place so that they can continue their work. I think they don't mind me breaking their string. LOL


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Really interesting hub. Also, congrats on HOTD.

just helen profile image

just helen 3 years ago from Dartmoor UK

Does anyone know what baby spiders eat? We have just had a hatching in our house (they are most welcome!) and the mother seems totally disinterested in them!

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Hi just helen. As far as I know baby spiders eat insects just like the parents, only presumably smaller ones, maybe like aphids and fruit flies. Hard to tell without knowing what species they are and how big. Actually I would not be surprised if they aren't cannibals, and will attack each other if they are not separated. This is presumably why spiderlings use ballooning to disperse once they are hatched.

just helen profile image

just helen 3 years ago from Dartmoor UK

Thanks for info aalite! We're not quite sure what to do with them as we don't want to be overrun, but don't believe in killing them either! They are the type with tiny bodies and really long thin legs that are common in houses in the west country.

creativeaqua profile image

creativeaqua 3 years ago from India

I am very scared of spiders. Though I guess it helps to learn about these creatures.

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