Did anyone else notice the reference to spiders in last Sunday’s newspaper? It was in the comic strip “Adam”. The reason I noticed it is because, after more then 35 years in the green industry I am taking a Master Gardeners course from the local county extension service. And just last Friday we were discussing the phylum Arthropoda; which consists of bugs, spiders and other creepy crawly critters.
Something that I learned last Friday was that spiders are not insects! They are considered Arachnids along with mites and ticks. You see, spiders and mites and ticks have two body parts and eight legs and all insects have three body parts and six legs. Which may not be what you are thinking about when you see something crawling accross the floor and up the wall giving you the heebe geebes and all you really want to do is whomp the daylights out of the critter with the nearest hard object.
Speaking of whomping Arachnids there are only two spiders in the Pacific Northwest that are dangerous; the Hobo spider, also known as the Aggresive House spider, Tegenaria argestia; and the Black Widow spider, Letrodectus hesperus. All the other spiders usually will not bite, and when they do take a nip out of you, it isn’t poisonous. Most spiders are beneficial, and as long as they don’t intrude into our personal space we should leave them alone.
In fact, the spider that is most commonly mis-identified as a Hobo spider is a Giant House spider, Tegenaria gigantea. This spider, which looks a lot like the Hobo spider is in fact a very serious enemy of the Hobo spider and will hunt the Hobo spider down and kill it just to keep it out of it’s territory.
Why I mention all this is because I had just learned that the front part of a spider is called the Cephalothorax and here that word was in the Sunday comics. Not only in the comics, but used correctly to describe the front part of a spider. I wonder how many other people knew what a Cephalothorax was?