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Spiders – Can Spiders Kill Humans?

spider-on-a-web image
Not all spiders spin webs

There are many animals on the planet that are truly scary, but spiders aren’t one of them. In fact, spiders do much more good than harm. Most people are afraid of spiders because they can bite. But only two kinds of spiders in the U.S. – the black widow and the brown recluse – are venomous to people. In the whole world, only 25 species of spiders can harm humans, out of over 37,000 species.

Spider Facts For Kids

  • Spiders have 8 legs.
  • They can spin webs.
  • Some spiders jump far.
  • They’re not insects!
  • Most are harmless.
  • They eat bugs.
  • Spiders molt to grow.
  • They have 8 eyes too!
  • There are 40,000+ types.
  • Spiders live worldwide.


Spiders are intriguing creatures, primarily due to their ability to fabricate complex webs from a unique substance known as silk, produced within their bodies. The durability of some spider webs is extraordinary, with certain species capable of spinning webs nearly five times stronger than steel of equivalent thickness.

These webs function not only as habitats but also as formidable traps for their prey. The diversity among spiders also translates into the variety of web structures, with orb weaver spiders creating expansive, circular designs, and funnel-web spiders crafting webs in the shape of a funnel. Remarkably, spider webs possess waterproof qualities, maintaining their structure even amidst rainfall.


Belonging to the Arachnida class, spiders are captivating creatures that share this category with other species such as scorpions, mites, and ticks. With over 45,000 known species, spiders represent one of the most diverse groups within the Arachnid class. Unlike insects, which possess six legs, spiders are unique in featuring eight legs.

They are also equipped with specialized organs called spinnerets, utilized to weave silk into webs. This characteristic is exclusive to spiders and is not observed in other Arachnids. Additionally, these webs serve multiple purposes, including prey capture, shelter creation, and egg protection.

Defying the typical insect structure of three body parts, spiders exhibit two primary segments – the cephalothorax and the abdomen. These distinctive traits contribute to spiders’ significant and fascinating role within the Arachnid family.


Contrary to the common misperception held by many children and adults, spiders are not classified as insects but as arachnids. The distinction between these two groups lies in their physical characteristics.

Unlike insects, which typically possess six legs, a body divided into three segments – the head, thorax, and abdomen, and often have wings, spiders exhibit a different body structure. They have eight legs and their bodies are partitioned into two primary regions – the cephalothorax and the abdomen.

Another fundamental difference is that spiders lack antennae, a feature many insects use for environmental sensing. Instead, spiders utilize minute hairs on their bodies to detect surrounding vibrations and movements. Hence, despite superficial similarities, spiders are quite distinctive within the animal kingdom.


Spiders, particularly their venom, are intriguing subjects of study, but contrary to common fears, not all are dangerous to humans. Among the 40,000 different spider species around the globe, only approximately 200 possess venom harmful to humans.

Spiders use this venom as a weapon to immobilize or exterminate their prey, which they administer through bites from their fangs. Interestingly, some spider venoms are under scientific scrutiny for potential medicinal applications.

Therefore, despite the need for caution around spiders, it’s important to remember that they are predominantly harmless and could potentially be beneficial.


Many individuals, particularly children, often harbor a fear or arachnophobia towards spiders. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the majority of spiders pose no threat to humans. With over 40,000 diverse species of spiders globally, only an insignificant fraction are harmful to humans.

These creatures are essential to our ecosystem as they help regulate the population of other insects and pests. By comprehending these aspects about spiders, children can better handle their fears and appreciate the significant role spiders serve in maintaining our environment.


The study of insects, known as entomology, offers a captivating exploration into the world of creatures such as spiders. Even though spiders are technically arachnids and not insects, they are a common subject in entomology due to their similarities. These incredible creatures exhibit a range of distinctive attributes.

For instance, every spider has the ability to spin silk, but not all employ it to weave webs. Some utilize their silk to construct shelters; others create parachute-like formations for airborne travel, a phenomenon known as ballooning. Spiders, with their eight legs and up to eight eyes, have twice as many as insects.

They hold an essential role in ecosystems, regulating insect populations. Encouraging children to learn about spiders can foster an appreciation for these fascinating creatures and help them comprehend the significance of biodiversity in our world.


Tarantulas, the world’s largest spiders, captivate children with their intriguing features and behaviors. Their colossal size, with some species boasting a leg span akin to a dinner plate, sets them apart from other spiders. Unlike their web-spinning counterparts, tarantulas are hunters who patiently wait in hiding before striking their prey.

Despite their formidable appearance, they pose little danger to humans as their venom is less potent than that of a bee. Interestingly, they have a unique defense mechanism wherein they release tiny, barbed hairs that irritate potential predators when threatened.

Another remarkable aspect of tarantulas is their longevity. Female tarantulas can live up to 30 years, which is significantly longer than the seven-year lifespan of their male counterparts, and many times longer than other spider species.


Spiders, intriguing beings especially for their silk production capabilities, exhibit a mesmerizing display of strength and flexibility. The silk they produce outmatches the strength of steel of equivalent thickness and impressively, it can expand nearly double its initial length without snapping.

Their silk serves multiple functions such as weaving complex webs for capturing prey, forming a snug nest for their eggs, and even acting as a lifeline enabling them to swing across spaces. Remarkably, certain spiders possess the ability to generate diverse silk types, each tailored for specific tasks, which adds to their fascinating nature.

Pest control

Often perceived as nuisances, spiders in reality are integral figures in pest management. These eight-legged organisms are natural adversaries of many insects we deem as pests, including mosquitoes, flies, and roaches, with a single spider having the capacity to consume up to 2,000 insects annually.

Thus, while the sight of spiders scurrying around the house might be unsettling, they serve as a natural method to curb the population of other more detrimental insects. Nevertheless, an unusually high presence of spiders in one’s residence might be indicative of a more serious pest problem, as spiders gravitate towards regions with ample food supplies.

In such instances, the most sensible course of action would be to seek the services of a pest control expert.


Although spiders can appear frightening, it is crucial for children to understand that the majority of spider bites are innocuous. Among the multitude of spider species globally, only a few pose a significant threat to humans.

Typically, spiders are not hostile and prefer to escape rather than bite. Generally, a spider will only bite if it perceives a threat. The manifestation of a spider bite is usually a minor red bump which may be itchy or slightly uncomfortable, but the majority of individuals recover rapidly without any severe implications.

Nevertheless, if a child suspects that they have been bitten by a spider, it is always advisable for them to inform an adult who can ensure it’s not one of the few harmful varieties.

Black Widow Spider Image - Science for Kids All About Spiders
Black Widow spider is venomous to people.

So what’s so great about spiders? First, they eat insects – and lots of them. One spider can eat over 2,000 insects a year. Without them, your home and garden would be overrun with flies, mosquitoes and beetles. Spiders also have several fancy tricks that make them different than any other animal.

Brown Recluse Spider Image
Brown Recluse spider is also poisonous to humans.

Fun Facts about Spiders for Kids

  • All spiders can spin silk, but not all spiders spin webs. Jumping spiders, for example, have great eyesight. They simply wait to pounce on their prey.
  • Spiders can produce seven different kinds of silk. Some silk has special glue that makes it sticky to catch insects. Other silk is not sticky.
  • Spiders make a nest of silk to protect their eggs. They place the eggs on the nest and then cover it with more silk to make a soft pocket.
  • Spiders’ silk is so strong, it has been compared to steel.
  • Most spiders eat insects, but a few large spiders eat birds and lizards.
  • Spiders can’t chew up prey. Instead, they inject a substance into their prey that dissolves the animal’s insides. Then they suck the liquid through a feeding tube – sort of like a bug milkshake.
  • The largest spider in the world is the Goliath birdeater. This spider is found in South America in Brazil, Venezuela and it is part of the tarantula family.
  • The most venomous spider in the world to us humans is the Sydney funnel web spider found in eastern Australia.
  • The wolf spider is one of the most popular garden spiders found in the US.
Spider on a Web Image
Not all spiders spin webs

Spider Vocabulary

  1. Venomous: poisonous
  2. Overrun: invaded
  3. Pounce: jumping attack
  4. Dissolve: break down
A Big Spider Eating a Lizard Image
Big Spiders can eat lizards.

Learn More All About Spiders

Watch this fascinating documentary video about the super spider by National Geographic:

A video documentary about all that you need to know about spiders.

Spider Q&A

Question: Do female spiders really eat their mates?

Answer: Sometimes. Spiders eat arthropods, including other spiders. A female spider might eat her mate because she sees it as lunch, not a mate.

feamle-spider-eating-its-mate image
A female spider might eat her mate because she sees it as lunch, not a mate.


Question: Do spider babies look like adults?

Answer: Spider babies look exactly like adults, only smaller. Sometimes they are a different color, as well.

Spider eating a Bird image
Giant spiders can also eat birds.