Of all the fearsome monsters that walk or crawl the earth, spiders are amongst the most terrifying and despised. Their physical traits make about 99.9% of humans want to kill them or flee. Fear of spiders, known as Arachnophobia, is one of the most common mass phobias on the planet, as evidenced by the multitude of comments you will find online on any post regarding them. Evolution has granted spiders with some of the most disturbing yet impressive set of qualities compared to any other species on earth. Let us explore some of the aforementioned attributes seen in spiders worldwide.
Generally known to be solitary beings, there are, however, some species of spider that live in large colonies, spinning a single web of gargantuan proportions. When faced with natural calamities, they escape together to a safer, higher ground, and spin the massive webs there. Given that spiders are found all over the world, it is possible that you could find a swarm anywhere!
Spider venom symptoms
The immense diversity results in a huge variety of symptoms, depending on the species. Most spider bites cause intense pain. Some of them produce neurotoxins, attacking the nervous system. Some secrete hemotoxins, resulting in damaged red blood cells and skin necrosis. They may even require amputation. What a lot of spiders have in common is effect on serotonin levels, causing pain signals in the brain.
Over 45,000 varieties of spiders exist!
On every continent, except for Antarctica, spiders in a large number of shapes and sizes can be found. Given that oldest discovered fossil of an arachnid, is over 420 million years old, it definitely isn’t surprising there’s such a large variety that exists. In size they vary from, 1mm to over 30 cm across, come in a plethora of colours and markings, and some of them are venomous!
Spiders are incapable of ingesting solid food, since they aren’t’ equipped with digestive systems or mouths designed for solid food. Instead, they secrete the digestive enzymes onto their prey and liquefy it outside their bodies. They then simply drink it up! They only consume the good parts, tossing away the remainder of the corpse. Quite creepy, don’t you think? It makes you hope to never actually see spiders eating!
Usually, the prey of the spiders is smaller than them. But, there have been documented cases of spiders consuming animals as large as lizards or even snakes! In such cases, the spiders simply wrap the prey in a lot of silk and then subdue them with venom. We saw how the spider actually takes nourishment, so you can imagine how long it would take to eat a large prey!
People eat them!
Cooked spider is a delicacy in Cambodia, Venezuela and Thailand. The spiders are seasoned with sugar, salt, MSG, and a blend of other spices. Cooked till the legs stiffen completely, the spiders are consumed whole, innards and all! This intriguing culinary specialty is thought to have developed as a result of lack of other forms of nutrition, or maybe the political conditions due to the regimes.
Sexual dimorphism, is commonly seen in nature. In spiders, however, the females can be ten to a 100 times larger than the males, with a matching appetite! Also, some species of spiders, tend to prey on the males after the mating ritual. The Black Widow Spider, is the best known example of the fact. All this, to ensure the passing down of genes. The Black Widow is aptly named!
Milked for venom
We’ve heard about snakes being milked for their venom. Not many people know the same is also done with spiders. In order to collect the venom, the spider is administered a very mild electric shock, and then collected into tubes. 50, 000 to a 100,000 milking produce about 3 ounces of venom! Also, you need to avoid being bitten or killing the spider!
Spider Silk is seriously strong!
Spider silk is very deceptive in appearance. It looks to be creepy and delicate, but is known to be one of the strongest substances on earth! Scientists have studied spider silk, and these are some of the results. Without breaking, one strand of silk can stretch five times its starting length! It is as strong as alloy steel. One species of spider produces silk that is as tough as Kevlar!
Spiders can be fatal to humans
Most spider bites won’t kill you. Then again, some will! Some of the species that pose a risk to human life are Black Widows, Redbacks, Brown Recluse Spiders, Mouse Spiders and Sand spiders, among others. Spider bites can need a hospital visit depending on the species, or they may prove fatal.