To most of us, spiders are our worst nightmare as we consider them as scary, potentially venomous insects that do more harm than good. Let’s unveil some amazing facts about spiders and find out whether they are as dangerous as we think they are.
- Spiders are among the most ancient animals on planet Earth as they have been around for 400 million years, having evolved from their thick-waisted arachnid ancestors. The first spider fossil which dates back to 380 million years ago was called Attercopus fimbriungus – the first type of spider with abdominal segmentation and silk producing spinnerets which lived in the age prior to the dinosaurs.
- Mankind could have potentially become extinct within 5 years due to famine without the existence of spiders on Earth. Spiders play a vital role in the terrestrial food chain in agriculture because these carnivorous creatures consume approximately 47.5 metrics tons of insects annually. Hence, they help reduce the numbers of insects that are harmful to crops, contributing to ecological balance.
- Aside from protecting crops, spiders are the secret weapon behind various revolutionary discoveries in terms of medication and industrial components. Scientists at Yale have analysed the chemical compounds in the Australian funnel-web spiders’ venom to be utilized as a pain-control medication enhancement.
- Spiders are less life-threatening than sharks, snakes and even bees. In Australia, it is estimated that bee stings lead to 1 to 2 deaths per year since 3% of the population is allergic to bee venoms.
- Although there are more than 40,000 kinds of spiders worldwide, Australia hosts some of the most fatal spider species. The most dangerous types of spiders in Australia are the Sydney funnel-web in New South Wales and red back spiders in Victoria. Their venoms attack the human nervous system and instantly alter functioning of the inner body cells. Without proper treatment, the victim can be dead within hours.
- Spiders are a nutritious food source for many other species including mammals, birds, and even wasps. Wasps lay eggs on spiders’ abdomens and wait for the larva to hatch and feed on the spiders outsides starting from the spiders’ pedicel. Furthermore, spiders can suffer from serious diseases such as fungus infection, mite infestation or worms.
- Spiders migrate in two ways called ‘ballooning’ and Angel Hair. Ballooning is used by baby spiders to move around. This is what happens when the baby spiders climb on top of vegetation and release their steamer of silk which catches the breeze and brings them up high in the air, resulting in a ‘spider rain’ like the one that occurred in Goulburn recently. The other technique is called angel hair used by adult spiders after heavy rain or floods as they migrate off the ground to avoid drowning. Spiders throw silk lines overhead and haul themselves up to escape from the water.
As scary as spiders might seem to most of us, these facts prove that spiders are not simply harmful and terrifying. Without this animal, we would starve through severe crop destruction and the whole ecosystem would become unbalanced. Learning more about this type of pest may equip you with invaluable knowledge to help you deal with them later on. However, having a professional pest control service to assist you when facing a spider infestation is the best advice since pest specialists are more experienced and professionally trained to handle even the worst infestations.