Eight Reasons You Should Be Nice To Spiders

For some people spiders have been a source of fear for years. But in reality, they deserve to instil a sense of amazement. There are plenty of reasons to love and not hate spiders, but let's start with just eight.

Spiders have amazing survival strategies, beautiful colour displays, complex social interactions, and play important roles in our ecosystems.

Here are eight reasons (one for each leg… or eye!) to love, not hate spiders.

#1 They like to play dress-ups

There are many species of spider that have evolved to look very unspiderlike in order to avoid being eaten or to sneak up on their prey.

One fantastic example is a group of spiders that look like bird poo when they curl up on a leaf. They even leave a white pool of silk to complete the effect.

Some spiders have evolved to look just like bird poo to avoid predation. [Image: Author provided]

This is a sneaky strategy to avoid predation by birds, and can fool even the sharpest of eyes.

Other spiders have evolved to look like ants to such an extent that it’s very difficult to distinguish between the spiders and their hosts.

To complete the illusion these spiders even move like ants and often hold up their front two legs to look like antennae.

These spiders look and move just like ants.[Image: Author provided]

#2 They love their kids

You might think they are cold-blooded killers, but some spider mums will do anything for their kids.

A wolf spider mum will carry all her offspring around on her back until they are big enough to avoid predators and catch food on their own.

Wolf spider mums carry all of their babies around on their backs. [Image: Author provided]

There is even a spider that loves her kids so much that after they’re born she fills her body with delicious nutrients and lets her babies eat her while she’s still alive. Now that’s dedication.

#3 They’re great housemates

Unlike your average housemate, spiders definitely pull their weight around the house.

They are quiet, clean, considerate and will happily clear out all of the unwanted bugs living under your cupboards.

Spiders are generalist predators that play important roles in controlling pests, including cockroaches and flies around your house if you’ll let them.

Jumping spiders are particularly good at catching large pests like flies. [Image: Author provided]

#4 They have an artistic side

The large circular webs that some spiders build are primarily used to catch prey, but they can also be a canvas for spiders who like to create masterpieces.

St Andrews cross spiders are common across Australia and are well known for the striking white cross in their webs which helps them to attract prey.

But for some reason the juveniles like to get creative and often draw a circle of zig-zags.

Baby St Andrews Cross spiders like to make zig-zag patterns in their webs. [Image: Author provided]

Other spiders are hoarders and store interesting things like bits of old food, snail shells, flowers and leaves in their webs.

There are even spiders who use debris to draw images of larger spiders – presumably to trick predators into thinking that they are larger than they actually are. Or perhaps it’s a self portrait.

#5 They’re great fishing buddies

A spider might not be the first mate you would choose to take on a fishing trip, but Dolomedes spiders are great anglers.

They live in and around the water and are able to catch small fish, tadpoles and even frogs. They can also catch you insects to use for bait.

Some spiders are able to catch and eat fish. [Image: Author provided]

#6 They dress (and dance) to impress

We all know it can be hard to catch the eye of that special someone, but the little peacock spiders have courtship down to an art.

In addition to the colourful patterns on their flared abdomens, the males dance with their back legs and drum with their front legs to attract a female.

Male peacock spider strutting his stuff. [Image: Author provided]

#7 They can be social butterflies

Social insects such as bees and ants have communal living down to an art. But did you also know there are also social spiders?

Sociality has evolved several times in spiders, and groups will often work together to catch food and raise offspring.

In Australia there are social huntsmen who live in groups of up to 300 individuals under the bark of trees. These groups usually consist of one dominant female and many of her daughters who will help her to raise the younger generations.

The social huntsman spiders, Delena cancerides.[Image: Author provided]

#8 They’re actually not very dangerous

A recent study showed that less than 0.5% of all spider species pose a threat to humans, and even fewer can actually kill you.

Australians do need to watch out for redbacks and funnelwebs, but the vast majority of spiders are beneficial and will do a lot more good than harm.

Spiders just want to help out by catching all the flies. [Image: Author provided]

Lizzy Lowe, Postdoctoral fellow, Macquarie University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.


Comments

    A wolf spider mum will carry all her offspring around on her back until they are big enough to avoid predators and catch food on their own.

    I don't want to second-guess the author or anything but I'm actually pretty sure that's not a wolf spider in the image following this sentence. Wolf spiders have dark stripes that run lengthways down their heads and abdomens, like this:

    http://www.spiders.com.au/panel-wolf-1.gif

    Unless that is a sub-species of wolf spider I'm unfamiliar with.

      I don't want to second guess you, WhitePointer, but...

      Are you familiar with all of the 100 genera and 2300+ species spiders called "wolf spider"? That's just in the family Lycosidae. Seriously though, when people talk about physical features (like dark stripes) on a spider they forget there are hundreds of different species that look virtually identical and the only way to REALLY tell the difference is under a 500X+ magnification with a taxonomy archive on hand for correlating data to. So in order to know if said spider is the real "wolf spider" and not some imitation: we need an entomologist that is a taxonomist.

        Even if it is a Wolf Spider it's not the species that's most recognisable as a Wolf Spider, especially in Australia.

        I blame the scientists and their stupid naming systems.

    And seriously, zoom in on that last pic and tell me how you can’t find those four eyes and his little mohawk hairdo adorable. But all anyone should ever need to hear is ‘they kill flies and cockroaches’. End.of.story!

    Nope.

    I am human

    My home is my domain. Spiders are illegal invaders and must be executed.

    Whilst I don't have any affection for spiders, I'll refuse to kill them, often at the request of a hysterical female.
    Given the spider can not change how it looks or moves, the hysteria around them is purely an immature reaction when confronted with nature.

    If spiders bother you, (and by 'bother', I mean having the temerity of being inside the house) simply spray citrus around the entry/exit points. Spiders taste with their feet, and dislike the taste of citrus.This, however, doesn't mean you should start lobbing lemons at them.

    Should that still not provide any comfort for you, I hear there is a distinct lack of spiders on the Moon.
    But don't visit Mars. Oh no, you don't want to see the Spiders from Mars.

    I get that humans don't see spiders as cute and cuddly because, well, they ain't but I hate moths, flies, silverfish, earwigs, and ants in my house long before I concern myself with the huntsmans and daddy longlegs.

    Australians do need to watch out for redbacks and funnelwebs, but the vast majority of spiders are beneficial and will do a lot more good than harm.

    Wear sensible protection when moving things in the garden (logs, bricks, etc.) and your likelihood of being bitten is basically zero. Stick your bare hand into a bunch of old wood, start rummaging around and you deserve what you get.

    Last edited 26/12/17 11:00 pm

    Spoken like a true Spider Sympathiser. Spiders are not your friends, they are your enemies! We must band together in the War Against Arachnids! Attack on all fronts. Report suspicious activity. Victory through Extermination! United we WILL win.

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