Types of Spiders: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

There are tens of thousands of different species of spiders in the world. Come and learn about poisonous spiders, non-poisonous spiders and even spiders that have broken a world record!

How To Identify Spiders

To some people, spiders are nothing more than creepy crawlers, but they are so much more than that! Along with ticks, mites and scorpions, spiders are members of the arachnid (pronounced a-rak-nid) class. They fit into this class because they have eight legs, no wings and no antennae. Arachnids also have two body segments: the abdomen and the cephalothorax (pronounced cef-a-lo-tho-rax ), which is a combination of the head and thorax. Some people think that spiders are insects, but they're not! Insects have three body segments and six legs, like ants.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have eight eyes? Well, spiders do! They also have a brain, a stomach and mouth fangs. Most spiders have the ability to spin a web because they can produce thin strands of silk from their abdomens. Spiders also have an exoskeleton instead of a skeleton inside of their bodies like you do. They also shed and climb out of their exoskeletons when they get too big for them.

There are more than 40,000 different species of spiders in the world. A small number are poisonous to humans, while others are completely harmless! Let's explore some of these different species and their characteristics.

Poisonous Spiders

All spiders have venom, or poison, that they use to kill their prey. However, only a few spiders have venom powerful enough to harm, or even kill, humans. One of these potentially deadly spiders is known as the brown recluse. While they normally won't bite unless they are bothered, their venom can take several months to heal. Brown recluse spiders are brown and have an average leg span that is about one inch long. They typically hide in dark, quiet places, so keep an eye out if you are in your garage, basement or attic!

Another spider that is poisonous to humans is the black widow. While the males are harmless, the female's venom is more than ten times as poisonous as a rattlesnake's! Yikes! If bitten by a black widow, a person might have difficulty breathing or will feel nauseous. Black widows can best be recognized by their black bodies and the red hourglass shape of their abdomens. More than 2,500 people visit poison control centers in the U.S. every year because of black widow spider bites.

A brown recluse compared to a penny

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