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Various Common Misconceptions about Spiders

For a creature so common, it is really amazing how many people often have misconceptions about spiders. There are 42,000 known spider species in the world and experts are even claiming that about 450,000 more are left unnamed and undiscovered and still, despite their vast number, a lot of us still confuse spiders with insects, among some other misconceptions. If you are curious which things you know about spiders are misconceptions and which are real, here is a short list of the most common general misconceptions about spiders:

1. Spiders are nothing but insects.

This is should take the first spot in this list because so many people actually thinks that spiders are indeed insects! We have all been taught in school that spiders are Arachnids and not insects but oftentimes, in our everyday lives, we do not seem to be particular about their difference. How many times have we heard someone day that "spiders feed on OTHER insects", that implies that spiders are insects right? Yet, we let it pass and at the back of our minds we think "well yeah, there's not much of a difference anyway". But actually, insects and spiders are so different in so many ways. Let's just point own 6 differences here: (1) Spiders only have two body parts while insects have three, (2) spiders have four pairs of simple eyes while insects only have two compound eyes, (3) spiders do not have antennae while insects have two, (4) spiders do not have wings while insects have two or four (though some do not have wings), (5) spiders have four pairs of legs while insects only have three and (6) spiders have un-segmented abdomens while insects have segmented abdomens.

2. Spiders have oily feet thus they do not stick on their own webs.

We must have ask others or even ourselves at one point in our lives (whether deliberately or not) why spiders do not stick on their own webs. Many people content themselves with this randomly generated answer: because spiders have oily feet. Of course, this is not true! Spiders simply tiptoe their ways throughout their webs. The entire web has droplets of spheroidal globs which serve as the "glue trap" on their web. When spiders accidentally "step" on one of these droplets, it also experiences the same amount of discomfort that we humans feel whenever we step on a gum. However, flies and other insects caught in the web happen to touch at least 50 of these sticky globs, thus making it quite impossible for them to break free. So, in general, the entire web is not really sticky, but spiders are able to place sticky droplets throughout the web making it effective in catching prey. Well, apart from their ability to tiptoe through their webs, spiders also have very unique tarsal claws. Insects do not have a third tarsal claw in each of its legs. This difference actually makes the spider more mobile in a spider web than all the other creatures.

3. When you say Arachnid, you mean to say Spiders.

While it is true that spiders are a kind of Arachnid, it is not just the spiders that are called Arachnids. In fact, there are eleven orders belonging to class Arachnid. These are: spiders, scorpions, pseudo scorpions, whip scorpions, mites, ticks, harvestmen and solpugids. The defining characteristic of Arachnids is their set of four legs. Thus, this means that not all creatures with eight legs can be automatically classified as spiders.

4. All kinds of spiders weave webs.

The term web is used to refer to spider silk woven to serve as a trap for catching prey. Now, although all spiders produce silk, not all of them weave webs because some of the spiders do not rely on traps to catch their prey, some spiders hunt for their food while some simply wait for their food to come to them. Examples of hunting spiders are: jumping spider, lynx spider, wolf spider, fishing spider and ground spider. Examples of spiders that simply wait for their prey to come to them are: crab spiders and trap door spiders. Nevertheless, although these spiders do not use silk to weave a web, they still use their silk in some other ways. For example, hunting spiders use their silk to build egg sacs and to serve as a dragline where they can traverse to and fro as they chase after their prey.

5. Spiders are so tiny to be able to bite humans.

Well, although in general, spiders do not intend to bite humans, some species are really able to do so when offended. Majority of the spiders have very tiny fangs, so tiny that these fangs will not be able to pierce through human skin. However, some spiders like the brown recluse spider and the crab spider have long fangs about 3 millimetres in length) which are enough to penetrate the human skill. Of course, their bite is not deadly to humans and redness or itching only happens in very rate occasions. Even though the offending spider is venomous, because of their very tiny size relative to humans, it is quite impossible for this venom to cause serious ill effects to humans.

6. Spiders do not really eat their victims; they simply suck out the juice from their victims and leave them dehydrated.

This is a myth. Maybe people are just so fond of the idea of having real life vampires but spiders are not even close to a vampire. Spiders eat and digest their victims. These creatures even have a unique way of digesting their victims. They use their silk to wrap their victims until they suffocate to death. Once dead, they vomit some sort of digestive fluids all over their victim and then begin to chew their victim using their chelicerae (or their jaws). The fluid that they have vomited is enough to "melt" some of the portions of their victim making it easier for them to simply suck the fluid back together with the melted parts of their victim's body. The spider vomits the same digestive fluid again and waits for the rest of their victim's body to melt before they suck the fluids back. They repeat this process until they get full and any remaining food will be wrapped in silk for future needs.
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