Fear of spiders is one of the most widely suffered and universally understood phobias. Even those who don't classify themselves as arachnophobes dislike finding a spider crawling on the ceiling. But perhaps we fear what we don’t understand. Click through to read 10 surprising facts about spiders that may make you less afraid of them... or perhaps more.
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THERE ARE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF KNOWN SPIDER SPECIES
We know of more than 40,000 species of spider living on every continent except for Antarctica. Within the order of Araneae, scientists divide spiders into three suborders: Araneomorphae (the largest), Mesothelae and Mygalomorphae.
ALL SPIDERS ARE VENOMOUS
Every spider species has the ability to deliver venom with their fangs, but that doesn’t mean every spider is poisonous, or even dangerous to humans. The vast majority of spiders don’t carry powerful enough venom to harm a human even if it delivers a bite. However, there are some spiders that are capable of killing humans with their venom.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SPIDER WEBS WITH DIFFERENT SHAPES AND DESIGNS
Different spiders create different styles of webs. Orb weavers construct the typical spiraled webs you probably imagine when you picture a spider web. Other styles include funnel webs, cobwebs, dome webs and sheet webs.
SPIDERS HAVE MANY EYES BUT POOR SIGHT
Most spiders have eight eyes, but that doesn’t necessarily make their vision keen. Their eyes are simply constructed, and see relatively poorly. Spiders rely more on their other senses to hunt and catch prey. Jumping spiders are a notable exception. They see better than any insect, even dragonflies.
SOME SPIDERS LAY HUNDREDS OF EGGS AT ONE TIME
Some small female spiders may lay only 10 eggs at once, or even just a single egg. But females of other species, such as the common house spider, can lay around 250 eggs at a time, and 3,000 total in their year of life.
THE BRAZILIAN WANDERING SPIDER IS THE MOST POISONOUS SPIDER IN THE WORLD
It takes only 0.006 mg of a Brazilian wandering spider’s venom to kill a mouse. It is the most potent spider venom on Earth. The species is also large — about the size of a dinner plate — and aggressive. Luckily, human deaths are rare due to the availability of an effective antidote.
THE GIANT HUNTSMAN SPIDER IS THE LARGEST SPIDER IN THE WORLD
Other spider species are heavier or more massive, but based on its leg span and therefore its sheer ability to take up space, the giant huntsman spider takes the cake. These spiders boast a pee-your-pants leg span of 12 inches, making each one about the size of a medium pizza. Luckily their bites, while painful, are not deadly to humans.
THE LONGEST-LIVED SPIDER ON RECORD WAS 28 YEARS OLD
There is wide and deep variation among the many spider species, so while some live for only a year or less, others survive much longer. The oldest known spider was a tarantula found in Mexico in 1935. She was an astonishing 28 years old.
THE DARWIN’S BARK SPIDER SPINS THE TOUGHEST SILK OF ANY SPIDER SPECIES
The Darwin’s bark spider, which dwells in Madagascar’s jungles, is remarkable not just because it spins the largest webs ever found, but also because those webs are made of the toughest spider silk known. In fact, being “10 times better than Kevlar,” according to zoologist Igni Agnarsson, the Darwin’s bark spider’s silk is the toughest known biological material period.
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NASA SENT SPIDERS INTO SPACE FOR AN EXPERIMENT
In 1973, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration sent two female spiders into space aboard Skylab II. The idea was to observe if and how the spiders, named Anita and Arabella, spun webs in zero gravity. At first, the weightlessness did have a negative effect on the spiders’ web-spinning abilities, but after a few days, they adjusted and were able to make webs as easily as they could on Earth.
Pictured: Arabella the spider on Skylab II.