Spiders exist within the class of arachnids, which also includes ticks, mites and scorpions. A spider’s body is divided into two sections, a cephalothorax, containing the eyes, mouthparts, and legs and an abdomen, containing the genitals, spiracles and anus. Unlike insects, spiders have eight legs and lack antennae. Spiders also have the unique ability to spin silk which is used to make webs for trapping prey or transportation/escape.
Spiders are beneficial because they feed heavily on insects, thus helping to keep global numbers in check. Some spiders (like the funnel building Grass Spider) wait for prey to get caught in their webs while others (like the Dark Fishing Spider) actively hunt for prey.
Spiders inhabit every continent except for Antarctica and have been on earth since the Triassic period, over 200 million years ago. Scientists have currently identified approximately 45,700 different species of spiders. Currently 40 different species of spiders call Maine home.
Only a relatively small number of spiders are very poisonous and even these seldom bite humans unless provoked. Because many people have a strong aversion to spiders, they tend to be killed indiscriminately even if they are harmless. Only two spiders have been found in Maine that are dangerous to human. While not Maine natives, both the black widow and brown recluse spiders occasionally hitch hike their way into the state via shipping boxes, old furniture or luggage. For this reason, it is important when traveling or receiving clothing or furniture from southern climates that they be thoroughly inspected for possible infestation.