Sunday, March 16, 2008

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Yes there is no doubt that the spider has a bad reputation. Yet they belong to a beneficial Class (Arachnida) and Order (Aranae). They help rid us of many dangerous pests, such as mosquitoes, and flies, which spread disease, as well as harmful insects.

Many people watch birds, photograph butterflies, and chase dragonflies. Try observing spiders for a change of pace. They are interesting creatures with more legs than insects (an extra two) and less body parts than insects. Insects have 3 body parts (head, thorax and abdomen). Spiders have two, the cephalothorax, where the head and thorax are joined, and an abdomen. The cephalothorax bears the eyes (numerous), mouthparts and 4 pair of legs. The abdomen contains the spinnerets for making strands of silk and the respiratory, digestive and reproductive organs.

One interesting and very common group of spiders is the Wolf Spiders. They are in the Family Lycosidae, named for the Greek work “lycosa” meaning wolf. Most wolf spiders live on the ground and are usually found hiding during the day. They don’t spin webs except for one genus. They hide in leaf litter where they are well camouflaged or hide in holes (some borrowed and others dug). Wolf spiders are usually patterned in browns, tans and blacks. There are over 200 species of wolf spiders in North America. This family is usually easy to recognize but individual genera may be difficult.

They have 8 dark eyes of unequal size arranged in 3 rows. The first row has four eyes and the middle pair of eyes is the largest. They have very good vision and may actively pursue prey.

See the handsome devil below.

Remember to click on the photos to get up close and personal.

Hogna sp.

One of the most common families of spiders is the Orbweaver (family Araneidae). Almost all of this family spins orbs (more commonly known as spider-webs) to catch prey. Some stay on the web and some hide in a little nearby retreat. Notice that those that do stay on the web usually hang upside down in the center. Unlike the wolf spider, the orbweaver has poor vision and locates its prey by vibration.

Some the genera have exaggerated form combined with beautiful colors. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Micrathena gracilis

So, suck it up and get out there and start enjoying spiders.



Stacey Huston said...

OK, hope your happy, clicked on photo for up close and personal. think we met sometime in a nightmare!!lol just kidding. great photos and info.

The Texican said...

As long as they're not already on me I'm fine with them.

Anna said...

There is NO WAY I would click on that photo to enlarge it. It scared when it simply loaded on the page. :)

I admire you just for taking that shot.

Mary said...

Ok, you made me shiver. I've photographed large spiders before and even got tangled in a very sticky web last summer, brought the spider inside my HOUSE WITH A FREE RIDE ON MY HAIR... so I will NOT enlarge your wonderful photos!

Thanks for visiting me. I like your blog and will return as long as you don't post a another spider.

Mary ;o)

SLW said...

Nice photos!! As you know, I DO like spiders (maybe you missed my black widow story), but I'm most impressed that you ID them. I've never attempted...

Thanks for stopping by! I'll visit again...

Texas Travelers said...

SLW: I read the spider story. Very cool.

leslie said...

I have seen a little spikey orb spider before. They are astounding.
Is the spider in your photo fairly small?
And I love wolf spiders. What characters.
I giggled at Texican's comment. Me, too.