Eight legs are better than two or four, or six

How often have you heard someone say “I hate spiders!”? I have, many times. But the question I ask myself is, “Why do people hate spiders?”

Hollywood hasn’t helped. They have produced horror movies by the dozen featuring giant spiders, deadly spiders, monstrous spiders and even great multi-species “swarms” of spiders, something that would never happen in nature. The 1990 movie “Arachnophobia” played on this fear with great success, causing even more distress and worry to thousands of people.

Fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias affecting a large percentage of the population – up to half if you trust some sources!

However, much of this fear is totally unjustified. While all spiders are, technically “venomous” because they use a paralyzing combination of chemicals to overpower, kill and help digest their prey, most of them pose no danger whatsoever to humans or pets. A few particular examples, such as the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse, whose venom can kill sensitive people, most spider venoms are either too weak to affect a human, or not injected in a bite in sufficient quantities to even get noticed. These two species get an undue amount of attention, causing people to hate, fear and unfortunately kill all spiders “on principle.”

But spiders are fascinating eight-legged arthropods (animals with jointed extremities). They are not insects, but belong to their own class: Arachnida. They show an incredible range of adaptations and features found nowhere else in the animal world. Most of them are solitary, web-spinning predators, but they can also live in groups, care for their young, hunt with “tools” they make themselves, change colors with their background, ambush, entrap or even chase their prey, and even sacrifice their males for the sake of bringing about the next generation.

Come explore the spiders of Catalina Island and discover some of these incredible features by visiting our Photo-Gallery.

Learn More:
These two links are good, condensed but very detailed introduction to spiders and their relatives.
An excellent portal to the world of California spiders.
A fabulous website with many pictures and information about spiders. The photography alone is worth the visit. Many California species featured.
A site to explore the roots of and even treatments for arachnophobia.
The truth about spider venoms, probably more than most of us want to know.
Site that provides definitions and links to arachnophobia.