Fantastic Book Review from The Education Cafe – Popular USA Blog!!

Crawly Not So Creepy – The Education Cafe

Is your child afraid of spiders? I think many children (and adults) at some point in their lives get spooked by spiders. Whether big and hairy or small and jumpy, spiders are notoriousspiders, huntsman spiders, Australia, book review, Michelle Ray for frightening children. Who can forget Little Miss Muffet?

Many spiders are not dangerous and even help us by eating bothersome insects. One such helpful spider in Australia is the Huntsman spider. Michelle Ray, author of A Huntsman Spider in My House, does a wonderful job weaving a story to teach young children not to be afraid of the Huntsman Spider. The illustrations by Sylvie Ashford brought a smile to my face and delighted my daughter. At the end of this simple children’s book, Ms. Ray provides interesting spider facts and a coloring page. Or, as written by Australians (and other writers of British English) it is a colouring page.

My only wish is that the book would be available in hardcover.

If you would like to order her book or find out more, click here.

Ordering in the U.S.A.? Click here.

 

Here are some links to spider facts in countries around the world:

Spiders of North America

The World’s Largest Spiders (Top 10) (largest is . . . you guessed it . . . The Huntsman Spider)

Spiders of South Africa

Spiders of Australia

Spider Pages to print and color

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Another Spider Fact WOW!!! Fish-Eating Spiders!!

Spiders sure are interesting and who knew some eat fish!  Thank you National Geographic 🙂

Fish-Eating Spiders Can Catch Prey 5 Times Their Size

These semiaquatic spiders are found on every continent except Antarctica.

A fishing spider in French Guiana clutches its prey.

PHOTOGRAPH BY INGO ARNDT, NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY/CORBIS

Katie Langin

National Geographic

Published June 18, 2014

It isn’t easy being a little fish. Predators dart at them underwater. Humans try to snare them with hooks. And other species—more than we’d thought, it turns out—can pounce on them from above.

According to a new study, spiders in 8 of the world’s 109 arachnid families can catch and consume small fish. Some of them can even subdue fish five times heavier than they are.

These arachnids are nearly everywhere. The study, published June 18 in the journal PLOS ONE, says fish-eating spiders can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They’re especially prevalent in warm, oxygen-depleted bodies of water like the wetlands of Florida, where fish are more likely to come to the surface in search of oxygen-rich water.

At least 18 species have now been observed catching fish, including six-spotted fishing spiders (Dolomedes triton) in the United States, pond wolf spiders (Pardosa peudoannulata) in India, and great raft spiders (Dolomedes plantarius) in the United Kingdom.

These findings were pieced together by Martin Nyffeler at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and Bradley Pusey at the University of Western Australia in Albany. The two biologists first searched for published reports and Internet posts documenting spiders eating fish. What they found—89 records in total, half of which hadn’t been published in the scientific literature previously—allowed them to paint a more complete picture of this unusual behavior.

“Fish predation by spiders has always been seen as a bit of an oddity,” said Marie Herberstein, an expert on spider behavior at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who was not involved in the study. “But the review makes a compelling argument that it is widespread, both taxonomically as well as geographically. This was certainly a surprise.”

How It’s Done

Fish-eating spiders live in freshwater environments like ponds and wetlands, where they hunt for meals on foot instead of using a web. Some can even swim, dive, and walk on the water’s surface.

These semiaquatic spiders “anchor their hind legs to a stone or a plant, with their front legs resting on the surface of the water,” the authors write. Then the arachnids wait to ambush their prey. The slightest ripple in the water, or anything that touches the spiders’ outstretched legs, can trigger an attack.

That’s because fish-eating spiders are generalist predators—they’ll go for nearly anything that moves. Most of the time, that means their meals are insects that have fallen into the water. But occasionally they purposely attack larger animals like fish.

And they’re well equipped to eat them, with mouths that can pierce flesh. They use those mighty maws to inject a lethal venom packed with powerful neurotoxins—chemicals that attack the nervous system—into their fish prey.

When the fish is dead, the spiders haul it to dry ground and administer chemicals that liquify its body tissues, making the meal easier to eat. (Related: “Male Spiders Self-Sacrifice, Lose Genitals.”)

Outsize Accomplishment

In the animal world, the average predator is 42 times larger than the prey it’s trying to subdue. Some fish-eating spiders, however, are actually smaller than their prey. (Watch videos of spiders catching bats, frogs, and mice.)

The authors speculate, for instance, that a giant fishing spider—weighing in at 7 grams (0.4 ounces)—would be capable of catching a 30-gram (1 ounce) fish.

Such supersize food sources could be critically important for females in the process of producing eggs, or for spiders that don’t have access to enough insect meals.

One thing is for sure: It’s more bad news for little fish.

Follow Katie Langin on Twitter.

 

 

 

Awesome Huntsman Spider Newspaper Article with Pictures!!!

Nothing to fear from huntsman spider, even if they crawl across your face

I learnt this week that there’s really no need to panic if you find a huntsman spider crawling across your face.

The Manly Daily reported this month that weather conditions could mean an increase in the number of huntsmen found indoors. The prospect revealed a number of readers had a fear of the hairy species.

I’d really let this guy have a place in your house for the winter and just let him do his thing – Olga Kazakova

 Manly Daily journalist Andrew Priestley with his hairy-legged new friend.

In a bid to help allay people’s concerns about the common household spider, the Wild Life Sydney Zoo gave me an insight into just how harmless the amiable arachnids are.

HUNTSMAN: Spiders expected to migrate indoors as weather cools

The zoo’s head invertebrate keeper, Olga Kazakova, was on hand as I interacted with one of the spiders.*

She explained we had nothing to fear from the humble huntsman.

“If anything, they’ll be more scared of you,” she said.

“Generally they’re quite friendly little critters.”

Wild Life Sydney Zoo Invertibrate keeper Olga Kazakova with a huntsman. Picture: Braden F

Wild Life Sydney Zoo Invertibrate keeper Olga Kazakova with a huntsman. Picture: Braden Fastier. Source: News Corp Australia

This month, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife stated more huntsman spiders may turn up in homes and cars, looking for shelter and food.

Huntsman spiders have been found in kitchen drawers, under car sun visors, and have even run across car dashboards. They have been known to cause traffic accidents.

The spider can grow up to 16cm in diameter in Australia – a 30cm specimen has been found overseas.

 Their large size, quick movements and unexpected hiding places mean they are highly capable at inspiring fear.

“They can go very very fast and they usually jump out of unexpected places so you often find them hiding in the bathroom somewhere, under a towel or something,” Ms Kazakova said.

“Of course, when you find something in your house this large, an unwelcome visitor in the middle of the night is always going to be a bit terrifying.”

It looks terrifying, but journalist Andrew Priestley proven there’s no reason to fear hun

It looks terrifying, but journalist Andrew Priestley proven there’s no reason to fear huntsman spiders. Source: News Limited

Don’t hunt the huntsman!

Huntsman spiders look creepy – they can grow up to 16cm in diameter, have hairy long legs and scuttle around places like curtains, cars and kitchen drawers.

They can bite and it does hurt but is rarely harmful.

As house guests, they earn their board by  controlling cockroaches, flies and other unwanted nasties, providing chemical-free pest control.

Weather is expected to drive more indoors and wildlife experts urge to leave the arachnids alone.

 But Ms Kazakova explained that they were unlikely to do any major harm to people.

Huntsmen can bite, and the bite can be painful. Ms Kazakova said unless you have an allergic reaction, which had never happened to her knowledge, a huntsman bite will not do any serious damage.

“They’re almost completely incapable of causing you long-term harm,” she said.

“They’re there to take down the cockroaches and the flies and all the other nasties you don’t really enjoy having around your home.”

 Huntsman shoot Wildlife Sydney Zoo

She said we have nothing to fear from the huntsman.

“If anything, I’d really let this guy have a place in your house for the winter and just let him do his thing, clean up your kitchen in the middle of the night,” she said.

“If it’s on the other side of the room, it’s definitely not going to come running over trying to bite you, perhaps maybe for a pat or something, but not for a bite.”

* PLEASE NOTE – the journalist in this video undertook this task in a controlled environment with a keeper at hand. Spiders can be dangerous and we advise people not to replicate this experiment without a trained keeper in a controlled environment.