What lurks in the web

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Sunday, 13 January 2008.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • Spiders have transparent blood.
  • Spiders never get caught in their own webs because they have self-oiling legs.
  • Most spiders have eight eyes. These are arranged on top and near the front of the head, usually in two rows of four each.
  • The social spider spins a sticky web where 50 plus spiders all live together.
  • Most spiders belong to the orb weaver spider family Aranidae. This is pronounced “A Rainy Day”.
  • According to some estimates, the bugs that spiders eat in one year weigh as much as all the people on earth.
  • The venom of the Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) or banana spider is so potent that just 0.006 mg can kill a mouse, making it the most neurotoxic venom of any known spider.
  • Some male spiders pluck their cobwebs like a guitar, to attract female spiders.
  • While all spiders can make silk, not all spiders make webs.
  • It would take 27,000 spiders, each spinning a single web, to produce half a kilo of web.
  • The golden orb-weaver spiders of Papua New Guinea spin the biggest, strongest webs. With supporting threads reaching up to six metres, their webs can reach 1.5 metres across. The webs are capable of snaring insects, small birds and bats.
  • It has been suggested that a pencil thick strand of web silk could stop a Boeing 747 in flight.
  • The longest-living spiders are the tarantulas, with some Mexican species (females) living up to 28 years.
  • The tarantula was named after the Italian seaport city of Taranto, where the hairy venomous wolf spider once abounded.
  • Australian scientists have identified some species of baby spiders that bite off the limbs of their mothers and slowly dine on them over a period of weeks. The researchers hypothesise the maternal sacrifice keeps the young from eating one another.
  • New Zealand has only one spider that is dangerous to humans. The rare katipo is believed to be related to the Australian redback or the North American black widow.
  • Spider silk may be stretched as much as a quarter of its length before breaking.
  • The silk of Nephilia spiders is the strongest natural fibre known, and South Sea Islanders use the silk to make bags and fish nets.
  • There is an average of 50,000 spiders per acre in green areas. Essential to the balance of nature, spiders annually consume 100 times their number in insects.
  • The largest spider in the world is the goliath birdeater at a length of 28 cm. At 26.5 cm is the salmon pink birdeater, then is the slate red ornamental at 23 cm, the king baboon and the Colombian giant-leg at 20 cm.
  • The smallest spider is the Comb-footed spider, which is smaller than the head of a pin.
  • Giant crab spiders have such a ferocious appearance they earned a spot as extras in the horror film Arachnophobia. The creatures, however, eat cockroaches, crickets and caterpillars, more compensating for their scary appearance. Giant crab spiders are about five centimetres long, are hairy and have noticeable black fangs and black feet. Their egg sac is the size of a golf ball.
  • Black widow spiders are not aggressive, and are actually shy.
  • Male black widow spiders are harmless. The wolf spider changes to resemble other spiders.
  • While many arachnids rely on webs or trap doors to catch prey, the bird-eating spider rushes straight at anything that moves. The hairy, venomous creature with a leg span reaching 25 cm can eat grounded birds or small rodents.
  • The average human eats eight spiders in their lifetime.
  • On average, people fear spiders more than they do death.
  • You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a poisonous spider.

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