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FLORIDA SPIDERS
A source for information on spiders

Spiders

 

Although they may be a big hit at the box office, spiders are usually not met with much affection during real life encounters. As with many other varieties of pests, Florida has its share, with various poisonous and non-poisonous species making their home here. Since most people can’t tell a dangerous spider from a harmless one by sight alone, their mere presence of these creepy-crawly Florida bugs in the home is usually perceived as a threat and enough to cause anxiety and annoyance.

Spiders actually belong to the class Arachnida, which contain organisms with four pairs of legs, eight eyes, no wings or antennae and two body regions. Spiders have several appendages that are attached to the cephalothorax, which is a fusion of the head, thorax, and abdomen. Their mouthparts, or chelicerae, are used during feeding and defense and contain their fangs and poison glands.

A spider’s web, its most visible calling card, consists of sticky and non-sticky silken thread, and serves as it’s living and eating quarters. While some spiders, such as the wolf spiders and jumping spiders actually hunt their prey, most spin magnificent webs in order to catch their prey in mid-air. Most spiders have several spinneret glands, and each produces a thread designed for a special purpose. Seven different gland types have currently been identified, although each species of spider will possess only a few and not all seven at once. Webs allow a spider to catch prey without having to expend energy by running it down, making it an efficient way to gather food.

The spider’s legs have tiny hooks on the ends that are used for climbing across their webs. They are also used to guide the silk, which is mostly made up of proteins, from the spinneret glands attached to their abdomen, as they construct their webs. Spider silk is also used to line burrows and make their egg cases. As they navigate their webs, many spiders leave a trail of silk behind them, as a mountain climber would use a safety rope. The webs help disorient and knock down flying insects, and help protect them from predators such as birds and wasps. Besides spiders, other Arachnids include scorpions, ticks, and mites.

The spider, after spinning its web, will then wait on, or near, the web for it’s prey to become trapped. The spider can sense the impact and struggle of a potential meal by vibrations transmitted along the web lines, which they sense through tiny hairs located on their legs. Spider silk has been studied for some time due to it’s incredible tensile strength and elasticity. Studies have shown that on an equal weight basis, spider silk is stronger than steel and Kevlar, which is used to make bullet-proof vests!

There are presently two groups of venomous spiders established and/or occasionally found in areas of Florida: the black widow and Browm Widow Spiders (three of which are native to Florida) and the Recluse Spiders. Both types of spiders tend to be found in similar places, which is in or under objects where their presence is not immediately obvious.

Most spider bites are not considered dangerous, and identifying the species that bit you isn’t always easy to the average person. With the widow spiders, look for the ubiquitous hourglass shape on their abdomen. Though not an established species, the brown recluse is a ¼” to ½ “ long, and is light tan to deep reddish-brown. However, if you suspect one of the widow or brown recluse spiders, get medical attention immediately. Bites from either species can be fatal if left untreated.

 

Spiders, especially the jumping spiders, are known to have exceptional eyesight brought by four (in some species, three, two, or one) pairs of simple eyes called ocelli. They're often arranged in varying ways that aid in determining the spider's species. Spiders have several appendages that are attached to the cephalothorax (fused head and thorax) and abdomen. The foremost are a single pair of chelicerae. These are used during feeding and defense; they contain the fangs and poison glands. The next set of appendages are a single pair of pedipalps that resemble very short legs; these are typically elongated in males and are used during mating. The next four pairs of appendages are the spider's legs, attached to the spider's cephalothorax. The legs of some spiders (especially the orb-weavers) have tiny hooks on the ends that are used for climbing across their webs and especially while guiding the silk from their spinnerets while spinning their webs. The last set of appendages range from one to four pairs of spinnerets that are usually attached at the end of the spider's abdomen. The spinnerets secrete the silk that spiders use for spinning webs, making or lining burrows, and making egg cases. Many spiders leave a trail of silk behind them, using it like a mountain-climber's safety rope.

 

 Black Widow  Brown Recluse  Crab  Daddy Long Legs  Garden  Ground
 House  Jumping  Spiney Back  Weaver  Wolf  Yellow Sack
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. Images and information derived in part or in whole from Trueman's Scientific Guide to PMO 6th ED

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