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Ground Wolf Spider, Vancouver Island, Photo By Robert LoganGiven that nearly half the total number of spider species known to occur in Canada areCallobius severus, (Hacklemesh Weaver Spider), Photo By Robert Logan found in and quite often only in B.C., and given the  importance of spiders to all  ecosystems in which they live , one must wonder why these beautiful creatures have received such little attention in the province and on Vancouver Island. Spiders are ferocious creatures living in the arthropod world. Theirs is a matriarch society ruled by the females where males can be just a meal.

The study of these creatures on Vancouver Island has for the most part, been conducted by a few amateur but dedicated collectors.

Wolf Spider With egg sac, Photo By Robert LoganWalk anywhere in British Columbia and you’ll be less than a meter from a spider. With more than 700 known species in theGiant House Spider, Photo By Robert Logan province, arachnids are everywhere, from mountaintops to intertidal zones. These creatures are always exciting to watch, from the jumping spiders that dance to impress possible  mates, to the yellow crab spiders that disguise themselves as flowers.

Spiders have an ominous, but often undeserved reputation. Though most spiders are venomous and considered predators, of the thousands of species found in Canada, few are actually considered a health threat.  In fact, spiders are actually helpful in controlling other pests in the home or garden since they feed on other harmful insects. They generally bite and inject venom into their prey. 

Although spiders are often unpopular, the venom of most species is not very toxic to humans, usually resulting in no more than a slight swelling, inflammation, or itching sensation. Most spiders’ fangs are too small or weak to Trapdoor Spiderpuncture human skin. Spiders usually will not attempt to bite unless accidentally trapped against the skin or grasped, although some species actively guard their egg sacs or young. Spiders, however, rarely bite humans. 

One of the most common misconceptions about spiders is that they are insects.  Spiders are arachnids and are actually more closely related to mites, ticks and scorpions.  Spiders have two body parts and eight legs and usually six to eight eyes, while insects are classified by having three body parts, six legs and generally two compound eyes or up to three single eyes.  Wolf Spider, Photo By Robert Logan

The average life span of a spider is usually one to two years, but some can live up to 20 years.

Spiders lay eggs within a silken egg sac that is often ball shaped and either hidden in a web, affixed to a surface, or carried by the female. Spiders may produce several egg sacs, each containing up to several hundred eggs.

A spider grows by shedding its skin about four to twelve times before maturity. In many species, the mature male often wanders about in search of a mate while the female has a territory.

Zebra Jumping SpiderAll spiders produce silk, which is secreted as a liquid through the spinnerets and hardens on air contact. Spiders use silk for a variety of purposes, such as making egg sacs, capturing prey, holding prey, making shelters or retreats, and transferring sperm during mating. Also, spiderlings extrude silk threads that enable them to be transported by the wind, a process called ballooning.Running Crab Spider

Spiders are predators that typically feed on living prey. They produce venom that is poisonous to their normal prey of insects, mites, and other small arthropods. Venom is injected through the hollow fangs to immobilize the prey and begin the digestion process.

 Spiders can only ingest liquids, so they either inject or regurgitate digestive fluids into the prey. They then suck in the digested liquid food.

Spiders use a variety of tactics to capture prey. Some species are web builders that use webbing to ensnare their prey. Others are  hunters that actively search for their prey. Passive hunters are spiders that lay in wait for their prey rather than searching for it. 

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