Notice how on a morning, after there has been a particularly bad air frost the previous night, how all the spider webs appear to jump forward of the hedges, flowers, gates and fences they have been so intricately woven upon? It is an amazing and magical spectacle, the beauty and the artistry of these spiders, most of them orb web spiders, how the ice encrusts the fine silk and makes them sparkle and shine. Well, you either love spiders or you hate them, but you may also be equally fascinated by them either way.
We have over 600 species of spider in the UK, and although some can bite, they are very timid and will only do so if provoked. They are relatively harmless compared to our tropical counterparts, which occasionally find their way here in imported goods, or are kept as pets. Spiders predate mainly on insects, but will also eat each other. Most folk come across spiders in the home, or in sheds, garages and other outbuildings.
They have eight legs, as opposed to insects having six, and they do not possess wings or antennae. Most consist mainly of two parts, the abdomen, and forward to this is the prosoma, which holds the head and thorax fused together. Some spiders, like harvestmen, only consist of one section, where the abdomen has also been fused.
The abdomen contains the silk producing gland, which enables them to construct such various and beautifully intricate webs for catching and trapping their prey. The prosoma contains the fangs which injects poison to paralyse and kill their prey once caught.
Next time you spot a long-legged arachnid running across your living room carpet in the night, do not grab for the slipper to squish it, or fear it, but have some admiration for the evolution these amazing creatures have gone through over the past 400 million years which have not only made them deadly hunters, but also skilled silk weavers.