Posted by: lensweb | November 18, 2015

Do Spiders have Spider-sense?


Spiders are predatory eight-legged arthropods that have organs to spin silk. They are the largest part of the Arachnid family, a group that also includes scorpions and ticks. Spiders bite with venom-injecting fangs to kill prey.

There are about 40,000 types of spiders in the world, living on every continent except Antarctica. Fossilized spiders have been found dating back 318 million years. In Britain we have 660 species (of which 280 are tiny money spiders).

Spider anatomy

Spiders have two body segments, the abdomen and the cephalothorax. The front part, is the cephalothorax, formed by the fusing of the head and thorax. It holds the eyes, mouth and legs.

The mouth has several parts. The spider’s jaws, fanged chelicerae, are used to hold prey while the spider injects venom. Behind the jaws are the labium and labrum, which together direct food into the spider’s mouth.

Between the chelicerae and the first pair of legs are the pedipalps, which look like tiny legs but are actually similar to antennae, and are used to sense objects. They are used in prey capture and feeding as well as in shaping webs.

Pedipalps are also used in mating and are used to tell males and females apart. The tips in males are enlarged boxing gloves used to transfer sperm to the female.

Most spiders have six or eight simple eyes. Some spiders can only see the difference between light and shadow others have good colour vision and can judge distance accurately by vision defocus.

A spider’s abdomen houses the reproductive system, booklungs and digestive tract. Also on the abdomen are the spinnerets, through which a spider produces its silken web.

Spiders capture prey using a variety of methods. They can trap small insects in sticky webs, lasso them with sticky bolas, or use their vibration-sensing skills to chase prey down. Spider guts are too narrow to take solids, so they liquidize their food with digestive enzymes and grinding it into a delicious fly smoothie it can simply suck down through its mouth.


Arachnophobia or fear of spiders is a common phobia. Fear of spiders began in the Middle Ages, when spiders became a cultural scapegoat for inexplicable epidemics of the time. Good luck washing those bath-dwellers down the drain, spiders are covered in tiny hairs that trap a layer of oxygen around their body so can survive underwater for several hours. Spiders in your home are paying for their stay by ridding the house of a large number of pests.

Spiders bite only when they feel threatened. Researchers are investigating novel uses for spider venom, from an eco-friendly (and bee-friendly) alternative to pesticides to treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, cardiac arrhythmia and strokes.

Spider webs

Spider silk is made of strong strands of protein. It is the strongest-known natural fibre. Different silk may be used for webs to trap prey; wrap prey, line burrows or protect eggs. Spider silk also has lots of engineering uses, from body armour to optical communications.

Spiders are grouped according to the type of web they make. Groups include tangle-web spiders, orb-web spiders, funnel-web spiders and nursery-web spiders.

 Spiders are often confused with harvestmen

How can you tell the difference between a harvestman and a spider? Harvestmen don’t have a waist or separate abdomen.

Learn more about spiders

Contact the British Arachnological Society

The BAS use science and education to advance understanding and appreciation of arachnids, and to promote their conservation, or on Twitter @BritishSpiders


Spiders do not have spider-sense, Spiderman’s sixth sense which signals a danger alert,  they need conservation and protection.

Marion Bryce 18 November 2015


  1. Most interesting thank you. Are spiders now classified as a family?


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