By Alexa, age 10

peacock-spider-300x169Have you ever noticed that most people don’t like spiders? Spiders are actually very important because they control the insect population. Most people know the basic facts. Spiders are not insects but are arachnids. They have an exoskeleton and 8 legs. They have a cephalothorax and abdomen. People probably know a little more. The only thing is, some people get a couple of facts wrong. For example, some people think that all spiders make webs, but actually, not all of them do. All spiders make silk, but only some make webs. Others build tunnels.

There are also many interesting facts that people don’t know about. Did you know that daddy long legs are not spiders, but part of an order called opiliones? Or maybe that a spiders silk is liquid in their bodies, but becomes solid when it contact with the air? Can you even guess how many species of spider there are? There are over 46,000! That is a lot. There are so many spiders that they live on every single continent on earth except for Antarctica.

As I said before, most people know that spiders are not insects but are arachnids. But did you know that insects, arachnids, and even crustaceans (like shrimp and lobsters) are part of a phylum called arthropods?

cobalt_blue_tarantulaSpiders are like insects but are also different in many ways. One difference is that insects have 3 body sections, the head, thorax, and abdomen. Spiders only have 2 – the cephalothorax (a combination of the head and thorax) and the abdomen. Insects have antennae to sense things, but spiders have hairs covering their body. Spiders have 8 legs and insects only have 6. Spiders make silk and insects don’t. Some insects fly, but the only time that most spiders are floating in the air is when they are baby spiders. When most spiders are babies, they float to a new place on a piece of silk. This is called ballooning.

There are also things that make spiders and insects similar. First, they all have an exoskeleton, a head, thorax, and abdomen (though a spider’s head and thorax are joined). They are both arthropods. They are both part of the same food chain. Spiders and insects both shed.

I have only covered a few of the facts. There is so much to learn about spiders and you can discover more.