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Arachne was a spinner of threads in a very old Greek myth. Athena, a goddess, was jealous of Arachne, and so she challenged her to a spinning contest. Arachne insulted Athena by weaving insulting pictures of the gods into her work, and this made Athena so angry that she turned Arachne into a spider. You may recognize part of Arachne's name in the word "arachnid." Arachnids are the group of animals to which spiders belong. Arachnids have two body segments, no wings, and eight legs.

We see spiders almost everywhere. We see them on the playground and in our yards, and sometimes, they're even in our homes. A lot of people are afraid of spiders. Some spiders can be dangerous, but spiders actually do a lot of good for us and the environment. Only two common types of spiders are poisonous to people: the brown recluse and the black widow. In fact, out of the 37,000 species of spiders in the world, only 25 can hurt people.

Spiders do a lot of good things. One important duty they have is to eat insects. They eat a lot of insects: Each spider can eat more than 2,000 in one year! If they didn't, our gardens and houses would be full of beetles, mosquitos, and flies. Spiders are also a symbol of good luck in many cultures throughout the world. One kind of spider is called a money spider, and legend has it that if one of these spiders gets in your hair, you will become rich.

The spider web is another admirable thing about this creature. All spiders produce silk, but not all use it for webs. They may use it to climb or to build egg sacs. The silk is very strong. Some spiders use it to catch animals much larger than they are, such as mice or birds. The ones who use the silk for a web do it to catch food. Spiders can't see well, so they use the vibrations from the strands of silk in the web to find their prey. When they sense an intruder, they wrap the prey in the silk. This is a very clever way to grab lunch!

The next time you see a spider while you are walking down the street or playing on the playground, think about all of the good they do for us.



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Written by: Ben Thompson