This story was initially printed in October 2019.
Maine is residence to lots of of varieties of spiders, and a few would possibly catch you unexpectedly.
With lengthy, spindly legs, these creatures typically encourage concern and disgust, particularly within the fall, when many spiders are at their largest measurement. Moreover, some spiders search shelter from the chilly by sneaking indoors. And to high it off, mainstream Halloween decor reinforces the concept that spiders are one thing to be feared.
However at nearer inspection, are they actually that scary?
In Maine, spiders are comparatively innocent to folks, mentioned Jim Dill, a pest administration specialist for the College of Maine Cooperative Extension. Whereas the bites of some species could cause allergic reactions, none of Maine’s native spiders is taken into account to pose a severe risk to people.
On uncommon events, two of the nation’s most toxic spiders — the black widow and brown recluse — have been by accident transported to Maine from southern states in produce shipments and development supplies, Dill mentioned. However these species are unable to achieve a foothold within the state due to the chilly winters.
What number of spiders stay in Maine?
The precise variety of spider species that stay in Maine isn’t recognized. In a 2007 research, two Maine spider consultants — Frank Graham Jr. and Daniel T. Jennings — collected greater than 300 totally different species of spiders from varied habitats in Milbridge, a small coastal city in jap Maine. And in 2012, a research discovered 145 species of spiders on and round Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain, together with 5 “new” species.
On a smaller scale, a number of years in the past, researchers discovered 39 species of spiders inhabiting the ferns that border the Orono Bathroom Boardwalk.
“There’s an amazing number of species and the way they make their dwelling, so to talk,” mentioned Jerry Longcore, one of many authors of the Orono Bathroom Boardwalk research. “A few of them are hunters, and a few aren’t. Some are net weavers and so forth.”
One Maine spider species is camouflaged to appear to be a flower blossom, whereas one other is able to strolling on water. Listed below are only a few of the numerous varieties, and a bit about what makes them distinctive.
Maine’s largest native spider, the fishing spider (additionally referred to as a dock spider) ranges from 1 to three inches in measurement. It walks on water to grab up bugs and even small fish. Nevertheless, it’s additionally regularly discovered within the woods and is a typical family invader.
“They’ll dive beneath the water to seize fish or tadpoles or aquatic bugs, and to cover from predators,” mentioned Catherine Scott, an arachnologist and PhD candidate on the College of Toronto.
Fishing spiders can keep underwater for as much as half-hour, Scott defined, respiration from a bubble of air trapped within the hairs on their our bodies.
They aren’t recognized to be aggressive to people, however they are going to chunk if provoked, and their chunk hurts — very similar to a bee sting, in line with an internet reality sheet by the College of Maine Cooperative Extension. Nevertheless, their venom gained’t trigger an issue until an individual is particularly allergic to it.
These spiders resemble crabs as a result of they’ve giant, extensive abdomens and maintain their legs out to the aspect. As well as, their entrance legs are notably bigger than their again legs and are used for grabbing prey that comes inside their grasp.
This spider makes use of camouflage as protection in addition to offense. For instance, in Maine, the golden-rod crab spider waits inside flower blossoms to assault bugs. It’s believed that these spiders can really change their coloration to match sure flowers. Yellow and white are commonest.
Small and springy, Maine’s many species of leaping spiders are recognized for his or her skill to catapult into the air at a second’s discover. They’re additionally typically known as “cute” or “charismatic” due to their vibrant colours and enormous, goggle-like eyes.
“The present principle principle of how they get the facility to leap is that they’re really utilizing their blood strain to retailer power after which releasing it,” mentioned Sebastian Echeverri, an arachnologist and PhD scholar on the College of Pittsburgh.
Maine is residence to a wide range of leaping spiders, together with the daring jumper (which has shiny inexperienced mandibles), the zebra jumper (which is striped) and the gorgeous paradise leaping spider (which is metallic pink).
This massive household of spiders was named after its tendency to chase and pounce on prey. Typically darkish in shade, they typically mix into the bottom and transfer shortly, startling gardeners.
Whereas most Maine spiders solely stay for a few yr, some wolf spider species are able to surviving the winter and may stay for a number of years, Dill mentioned. Because the temperature drops, they seek for shelter beneath fallen leaves and different particles. For that reason, watch out when cleansing up your yard within the fall. It’s widespread for wolf spiders to chunk folks when disturbed.
Often known as funnel weavers, grass spiders spin a sheetlike net with a funnel or tunnel off to at least one aspect the place they cover and wait for his or her prey. This sheet net isn’t sticky, in line with the PennState School of Agricultural Science. As a substitute, it contains a community of threads above it that impedes the flight of bugs and causes them to fall on the sheet. The fast-moving grass spider then darts out and bites.
Along with utilizing their webs to seize prey, grass spiders use webs to speak by vibrations.
“The males do a courtship dance on the feminine’s net [announcing their presence],” Scott mentioned. “Additionally they have a pheromone they emit that knocks the feminine out to keep away from being cannibalized.”
Many feminine spiders eat their mates.
Maine is residence to all kinds of orb weavers, that are spiders that spin elaborate webs with round patterns. These sticky webs are utilized by the spiders to seize their prey.
One of many flashiest orb weavers in Maine is the black and yellow backyard spider, which is giant (with its physique typically exceeding an inch lengthy) and lined in a symmetrical sample of black and shiny yellow. As well as, its net is showy, with a transparent zig zag sample down the middle.
“Most individuals have run into these, particularly within the fall,” Dill mentioned. “They put their net proper throughout pathways. You may be out within the backyard or out in a area and all of the sudden a black and yellow spider is crawling up your chest.”
Different orb weavers present in Maine embody the banded backyard spider, which is striped; the marbled orb weaver, which shows an intricate sample on its giant, spherical stomach; the barn spider, which seems to be particularly bushy and is grey or brown; and the long-jawed orb weaver, which has an elongated physique and distinguished jaws.
Turning concern into fascination
“Even amongst entomologists (scientists who research bugs), there are a lot of who’re afraid of spiders,” mentioned Scott, who shares her fascination with spiders on her weblog SpiderBytes. “There’s one thing about that further pair of legs and the best way they transfer, one thing about spiders that creep folks out.”
Nonetheless, spiders can simply be considered as “helpful” to people. Feasting on all kinds of bugs, they decrease the variety of mosquitoes and different biting flies in our surroundings. Additionally they eat bugs that harm crops and flowers and invade houses.
“Spiders are simply part of the ecosystem,” Longcore mentioned. “They’re filling a distinct segment. And when there are numerous blackflies out, I want there have been extra of them.”