Some fear them. Others keep them as pets. Either way, nobody can deny that spiders are some of the most intriguing animals! Learn some of their major characteristics and interesting facts in this lesson about spiders.

Singling Out Spiders

It’s no wonder that one of our most popular superheroes is based on a man who has some of the best qualities of spiders. They can do some awesome stuff. Almost anyone can identify a spider, but many people are confused about what really makes them different from other animals. Spiders belong to a very large group called invertebrates, which means that they have no backbone. But it doesn’t stop there.

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Invertebrates are broken into smaller groups, one of which is called arachnids. Spiders and other arachnids have eight legs, and their bodies are broken into two main segments, or parts, called the cephalothorax and abdomen. Arachnids are often called insects, but this is inaccurate. Not only do their legs and body segments make them different, but unlike insects, arachnids have no wings, cannot chew, and they have no antennae.

Spiders have eight legs, two body segments, and fangs.~
spider

Physical Traits of Spiders

The spider has several body features that help them do some pretty amazing things (you know…like The Amazing Spider-man)! Spiders have things called spinnerets that produce the silk. This silk is used by spiders to build their homes (webs), catch their prey for food, hide, protect their babies, and to help them travel. Their bodies are also covered with an oil that prevents them from getting stuck to their own silk like their prey.

The wolf spider uses its silk to hold its babies on its back while they develop.
wolf spider

Because all spiders are predators, they have fangs that they use to paralyze or kill their prey. Spiders have no teeth, so they cannot chew or swallow. Therefore, the venom in their fangs not only can paralyze, but it liquefies the prey’s insides. This becomes the spider’s food. Soup, anyone?

Spiders release venom into prey through their fangs.
spider fangs

They also have these leg-like features called pedipalps next to their fangs. They help the spider to hold on to its prey while biting it. And the hair on their legs isn’t just to make us think they’re cute little fuzzy creatures. These hairs help spiders feel vibrations as well as to smell what’s in the air so that they know what’s near them.

Where do they Live?

There are over 30,000 species of spiders, so you can imagine that they can be found almost anywhere. They live on every continent except Antarctica, but there are more species of spiders in tropical climates than in other areas. Most spiders are usually found right below or above ground, but there are some species that actually lay their eggs in the ocean. It’s no wonder they have adapted to live in so many places. They have been around for 400 million years!

Lesson Summary

Spiders are arachnids, which are invertebrates with eight legs, fangs, and two body segments. Their spinnerets produce silk for webs, hunting, and protecting their young. Spiders can be found on every continent except Antarctica and have been around for over 400 million years.