Eight-Legged Facts     

                        Goliath Birdeater Tarantula              Colbalt Blue Tarantula    Some sort of oriental tarantula                                                     


Common Misconceptions about spiders and their kin

Common questions about Spiders and their kin

How can I tell if a spider is female or male?   

    Most Male spiders have front legs (palps) that are large and round.  They usually hold them in front of their bodies.


How many spiders will hatch from one spider egg?

How many bugs can a spider eat in its lifetime?

How many legs does a spider have?

    They have 10 legs!  This is no joke; spiders have 8 legs that they walk with, however, they also have a pair that they use sort of like hands.  These front pair of legs are referred to pedipalps or just palps for short.

How do spiders make webs?

     Spiders have special glands that secrete proteins that make up the web.  There are many different types of web or silk that spiders can make; these include silk for: prey capturing, prey detection, burrow lining, egg sacs, and prey wrapping.

    Spiders use different types of web in the construction of a web.  There are is the web that acts as girders; this web is very strong and is not sticky.  Then there is the web that actually captures the prey; this web is very sticky. 

How strong are spiderwebs?

    Depending on the species of spider and the type of web, it can be up to 5 times as strong as steel and it can be more elastic than nylon.  Check out Randy Lewis' research on spider silk.  He is one of the world experts in spider silk and he is right here at the University of Wyoming!

How do spiders grow?

    We know that vertabrates (animals with an internal skeleton), like humans and lizards, grow when their bones grow.  Muscles and organs grow with the skeleton.  Well, with invertebrates (animals with their skeleton on the outside), this is just the opposite.  Inside the spider or insect, the muscles and organs grow, but the skeleton (called exoskeleton) doesn't grow.  When the muscles and organs get too large, the spider molts (basically crawls out of its old skeleton) and forms a new and larger exoskeleton.  Below is a good picture 


Why are some spiders hairy while others aren't?

How do spiders breath?

    Spidere breath passively  through what are called book lungs.

Why do some spiders drum their front legs (palps)?

Do wolf spiders make webs?

    Wolf spiders have the ability to produce silk, but they usually only use it to wrap their egg sacs.

Can spiders see?

    Some spiders, like jumping spiders and wolf spiders can see relatively well.  These types of spiders rely on sight as well as vibrations to detect prey and predators.  Other spider, most of which make webs, have very poor vision, and rely mostly on vibrations to detect prey and predators.

How can spiders detect prey?

How can spiders travel?  How can they get to islands like Hawaii?



Are tarantulas poisonous?

Remember almost all spiders have venom.  Those spiders that we usually think of as tarantulas do have venom, but most tarantula bites are about as painful as getting 2 bee stings.  Other spiders in the tarantula group are some of the most dangerous spiders in the world, such as Australia's funnel-web spiders (not to be confused with the funnel-web spiders found around Wyoming).

There are 2 types of tarantulas: New World and Old World species. 

What is the largest spider in the world?

    As far as we know, the largest spider in the world is known as the Goliath Birdeater Tarantula (Theraphosi blondi) (See the first picture on the top of this page, to the left).

Do tarantulas make good pets?

Why yes, they do; this depends on the species.  You can order them off of the internet or through your local pet store.  If you are interested in getting one, the most common and probably the best for beginners is the Chilean Rose Hair.




all venomous not physically able or not potent to us

what good are spiders

how do they get in


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Back to the UW Extension SpiderWeb Main Page