Tag Archives: spider venom

Spiders – Very Hungry Hunters!

Spiders are a very successful group of arthropods that are found everywhere from deserts to grasslands to forests to Arctic tundra.  There are more than 45,000 species identified worldwide and that number is growing with new discoveries. It has been estimated that there are around 130 spiders occupying every 10 square feet of land on the earth and the combined weight of all spiders is around 30 million tons.

Collectively, spiders kill between 400 million to 800 million tons of prey annually. Their prespider-eating-insects-3479732_1280y consists of insects and springtails (small insect like arthropods), with larger spider species consuming birds, fish, frogs, lizards, and small mammals.

Compare this to what humans consume, which is estimated at 400 million tons of meat and fish yearly.

According to researchers, spiders are not only important predators, but also find themselves on the menu of thousands of other animals. frogs-eating-spider-4951306_1280Between 8,000 and 10,000 other predators,wasp-eating-spider parasitoids and parasites feed only on spiders, while spiders at the same time make up an important part of the diet of an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 bird species.

While it’s a bit creepy to think about so many spiders eating so many creatures, year-in and year-out, it’s important to realize that this is just part of the world’s natural food chain .

The only other group of arthropods that can compete with spiders, pound-for-pound, are ants, but spider-tarantula-eating-4362987_1280ants are not overwhelmingly carnivorous like spiders.

Even though spiders may be out there eating their weight in gold, or insects. They are still not welcome in our homes and businesses.  In fact, they’re persona non grata, just about everywhere people live, play or congregate.  This may have something to do with their creepy, eyes, eight to be exact, and their ability to crawl, run and jump on eight multi-jointed legs. Oh, and they’re hairy, they bite and inject venom, and they build spider-in-web-with-food-4631652_1280sticky webs.

Keeping spiders out of our living spaces is a never-ending battle for most of us.  So, when we get tired of swatting at, stomping on, or hunting for spiders, calling a professional pest control company is next on the agenda.

woman-in-spider-web-corky-cartoon-2Spider control is best left to the experts.  They know where they live, they know why they’re there, and they know how to get rid of them.  Corky’s Pest Control has been successfully controlling spiders on customers properties for over 50 years in Southern California.  Their Ultimate Pest Control Service is a uniquely developed system that combines, physically removing webs, using state approved materials for the elimination of spiders and consistently applying these measures in a timely manner. Most important, is a consistenraining-spiderst, and sustainable, treatment plan, for without one, spiders are sure to re-infest, since they crawl and float in (known as ballooning), from neighboring properties.

 

Fun Fact: spider-clipart-arachnid-155533_640

Spiders consume approximately 10 percent of their body weight in food per day. That’s equivalent to a 200-pound man eating 20 pounds of meat each day or, 2000 pounds of spiders consuming a 200-pound man, in 1 day.

Very Hungry Hunters, Indeed!

TARANTULAS ARE LOOKING FOR LOVE EARLY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Male tarantulas have been spotted, early this season, marching in mass for mates.  This annual march to find love, usually starts around September or October, but rangers in our state parks believe that the weather has male tarantulas starting their searches earlier this year. follow-the-spiders-2

Despite their fierce reputation and scary demeanor, the 29 species of tarantula that are native to the United States are mostly harmless. These spiders have large fangs and a bite will probably hurt, but their venom, which is relatively mild, rarely causes a reaction in humans.  It would be more likely that an allergic reaction occurs from coming into contact with the “urticating” hairs” that these spiders kick at predators and prey. These hairs can get into the nose and eyes and cause a lot of discomfort.

Tarantulas are slow and deliberate movers but accomplished nighttime predators. Insects are their main prey, but they also go after larger game, including frogs, toads, and mice. They are mostly burrow dwellers and do not use webs to capture prey, but they do spin a trip wire to alert them when something nears their burrow.

These spiders grab with their long, strong legs, inject paralyzing venom, then kill their unlucky prey with their fangs. They then secrete digestive enzymes to liquefy their victims’ bodies so that they can suck them up, like a milk shake, through their straw-like mouth openings. After a large meal, the tarantula may not need to eat for a month.

tarantulas_meetA male, encountering the silk surrounding the entrance to a female’s burrow, calls and dances suggestively. He may be rejected or selected, and after mating he may  even be eaten, becoming a ready-made source of protein to jump start the development of the next generation.

wasp dragging envenomed tarantula
wasp dragging envenomed tarantula

Although spiders are world class predators, they are often themselves eaten. Tarantulas have lots of natural enemies, including lizards, snakes, birds, and even wasps. A female tarantula hawk (a large wasp) can locate a tarantula, sting it, and then drag its paralyzed body into a previously prepared burrow. Inside the burrow, she lays a single egg on the body of the living spider. When the larva hatches, it eats the tarantula!
tarantula-bobSan Diego County has two species that call it home – The California Black or Ebony (Aphonopelma eutylenum) and the San Diego Bronze (Aphonopelma reversum or steindachneri).  Both have bodies about 2 inches in length and neither are aggressive.

If you look up the meaning of Tarantula, you’ll find that it doesn’t mean, monster with eight legs or giant killing machine.  It means, “Big Hairy Spider”.  That is exactly what they are.

Fun Fact:

The name Tarantula apparently originated in the 14th century, in the Italian city of Ttarantella_napoletana_1870aranto, where people felt compelled to dance the sweaty, wildly gyrting  “Tarantella, when bitten by a spider. They believed to do this dance was the only way to cure themselves of the deadly effects of the bite.