Are you afraid of spiders? There’s a name for that fear... Arachniphobia. It’s kind of a mystery why so many people fear spiders. 


Spiders are not insects as many people believe. 


Spiders belong to a class of animals called arachnids. They have four pairs of segmented legs, and can grow a new leg if they lose one. Most spiders have eight eyes, and they do not have antennae or wings. A spider's body is divided into two sections, the abdomen and the cephalothorax. The legs, eyes, and mouthparts are all in the cephalothorax. Most spiders have poison glands and fangs in their jaws, which they use to inject poison into insects. The venom paralyzes or kills their prey.

Spiders usually have six fingerlike silk glands called spinnerets located beneath their abdomen. The silk comes from inside the spider's body as a liquid, thicker than water. When a spider wants to make a web, it squeezes the silk out of the two small holes at the back of its body called spinnerets. The moment it hits the air, the silk dries into a line that looks like a long strand of hair.

Although spiders can live almost anywhere in the world, some like it where it is very humid, and some like it where it is very dry. Some spiders live underground and catch their prey by jumping out at them. Others live in trees and capture their prey in their webs. Others live in our houses. Have you seen them hanging from the ceiling? Many times a spider's common name tells something about the spider. Where do you think the garden spider lives? What about the water spider? A wolf spider? A banana spider?

The tarantula is probably the most feared of spiders. It is very big and can stretch itself almost to the size of a one-foot ruler - 10 inches. It is furry, unlike other spiders. It is a nocturnal animal and comes out at night to find food. It is large enough to eat many animals that smaller spiders can't catch. It can eat big beetles, toads and frogs. It can even eat small birds, snakes and lizards. Most spiders live one or two years, but the tarantula takes eight to 10 years to become an adult, and then lives a few more years. Tarantulas can become pets in our homes because they can be tamed.

Spiders are considered humankind's friend because they help keep the insect population in check. Humans use spiders' silk to make threadlike lines for microscopes, telescopes and other scientific instruments.

All animals have natural enemies. Birds, insects such as wasps, snakes, lizards, frogs and fish eat spiders. Sometimes spiders eat each other. Humans try to destroy them because we do not understand how useful they are. Spiders try to protect and defend themselves from their enemies. Ask students to consider if they were spiders what they would do to protect and defend themselves. All of us know how to protect ourselves using methods that are very similar to those of the spider.

A spider can hide by using its colors and patterns for camouflage to blend in with colors and patterns. What colors do spiders have? What are the colors of dirt, trees, leaves and grass? Humans will also hide if they sense a danger.