Every once in a while an enormous wolf spider startles us when we go downstairs and flip on a light. We call him “Wolfie”. Fortunately, most of the time he (Wolfie might be a she) stays out of sight and is helpful because (s)he eats other critters that inhabit homes with humans.
Spiders are just about everywhere. At least 45,700 species have been identified with new ones found every year. Of all orders of living things spiders are seventh in total diversity. They live on all continents except Antarctica and in nearly every habitat except the air and salt water. Too many myths surround spiders and the stories grow around October – Halloween month. Actually, August and September in many parts of the US are prime arachnids months.
Spiders are in everyone’s home and yard. Most are tiny, harmless to humans and stay out of sight. We are most aware of spiders in the yard on mornings after a heavy dew when the lawns are carpeted with ” fairy napkins.” This is the work of funnel spiders that eat pesky insects.
All spiders share common features. Although often called “bugs” or insects spiders are arachnids that have eight legs. Insects have but six. All spiders, with possibly one exception, are carnivorous. They kill prey, which often is insects, with venom.
While we think of all spiders as predators, they themselves are an important prey species for other animals. Spot a warbler or brown creeper working its way along a tree and it’s probably seeking tiny spiders hidden in cracks in the bark or on leaves. For many birds a spider meal is simply delicious.
Spiders live in houses for good reason –