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What Exactly ARE Spiders???
Spiders are not insects, which might not be what you thought. Spiders have some distinct properties to show how different they are. An average insect has three body regions, antennae, six legs, usually only two eyes, (though sometimes more), and they digest their food after they eat it. Spiders on the other hand, have two body regions that are connected by a pedicel, they have eight legs and pedipalps, which look like legs but are actually an adaptation of the mouth parts. They also all have poison on the fangs of their chelicerae, never have wings, and have eight or six eyes. They also have a silk apparatus at the hind end of their abdomen and they always digest their food before they swallow it.
Overhead view of spider showing two body parts and eight legs.
Frontal view of spider showing six eyes and chelicera, with hidden fang underneath.
Spinning Characteristics (the web and beyond)
Another characteristic most people associate with spiders is the fact that they spin a web. Not all spiders spin a web however they all have that capability. Many spiders will pay out a "drag line" behind them which is there in case the spider falls or jumps. Prey is also wrapped up in strands. Also instead of a web, spiders may build a nest type structure which can be like a cave or a tube. Spiders also use their silk strands to catch the air with strands ballooning up behind them. All eggs are laid in a cocoon also spun by the spider. These cocoons can then be placed in the web or nest or carried around by the mother spider.
How spiders get their prey!
Spiders are so cool in that they are only carnivorous! They are attracted by live animals moving, mostly insects. There are two ways in which they ingest food. Those with weak jaws puncture the insects body with their fangs and then slowly inject digestive fluid through the hole they created. The digestive fluid liquifies the tissues and then the spider sucks it in. It repeats this until all tissue is liquified and all that exists is the insects empty shell. Spiders with strong jaws (tarantulas, wolf spiders, large orb weavers to name a few) mash the insect to a pulp between the jaws and spray their digestive fluid over it. All that cannot be digested will be discarded. Their abdomen can swell to accomodate the added food. Spiders will feed on other spiders so they rarely live together.
If spiders are cannablilistic, how do they mate?
The male will have to go through a lot of effort to find the female. Since spiders are in general so nomadic the males and females are not guaranteed to be near each other. So the male has to find the female and appease her so that she doesn't eat him. He sort of dances before her and gets her excited and then her mind isn't on eating him. Some female spiders will eat the male after mating (like the black widow) but not all of them will do so. Some mating pairs will even share the same web for awhile.