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Not-so-creepy crawlers

What animal has eight eyes and legs, hairy body parts and piercing fangs? You might imagine a weird creature that you have never seen before. Would you believe that this is an animal that lives in your very own backyard, maybe even inside your house? There is nothing to be afraid of, because this is the spider, one of the most fascinating, elegant and diverse animals on Earth.

With close to 40,000 known species, spiders are in a class of animals (Arachnida) that include scorpions, harvestmen (like the “daddy long-legs,”) mites and ticks. While they might seem like an insect, spiders look quite different, with four pairs of jointed legs and only two body sections (head and abdomen). They can produce a silk from the rear of their abdomen through spinnerets, making either a web, nest or drag line. Even though all spiders have multiple pairs of eyes, they primarily interact with the world through touch. You can find out more about these elegant predators by looking for them inside your house and outside in the garden. Try to find at least three different species of spiders. Make sure you find at least one web-builder and one hunting spider. Write down where you observed the spider, as well as what the spider looks like and how it acts in the environment. Compare your notes with books on spiders found at your local library or with spider experts in your hometown.

— Stephen Brueggerhoff, former Wildflower Center public programs manager

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