An Inside Look at the World of Arachnids
Arachnophobia is a very real thing, but is our fear of spiders truly warranted? What benefits do these creatures hold that could actually help benefit humanity?
The year is sometime in the past. I'm in Junior High. I wake up with a bitter taste in my mouth. Now normally, there's always some sort of nasty, dry, morning mouth sensation - usually induced by thirst. Not thinking too much of it, I head to the bathroom half asleep to go wash out my mouth and brush my teeth. One look in the mirror and I quickly realize the source of the bitter flavor. A single spider leg dangling off my lower lip. Clearly I was doing much more than dreaming about a new matte black G-Wagon in my sleep.
Spiders have instilled fear in even the strongest of men. There's just something about the 8 legged, fang yielding, shifty moving, hairy arachnid that makes anyone cringe or leap in terror. As an animal loving scientist myself, ever since waking up with spider bits in my mouth, I've had an uncomfortable relationship with this invertebrate most of my life. My first consolation to myself was that I fell into the average of people who consume 8 spiders a year. A large myth that can easily be disproved if you do any type of research on these 8 legged creatures. They are way more scared of us than we are of them.
Spiders can spin up to 7 different types of silk - each designed for different purposes.
My partnership with the Natural History Museum has been incredible over the year, and has given me the chance to explore some rather unique exhibits. None that I was more excited about than their annual Spider Pavilion.
A combination of fear, anticipation, and curiosity all set in at once as I entered the doors and met my personal exhibit interpreter. After a few "spidey sense" jokes and verifying that I wasn't going to unexpectedly walk into a giant web, I was set to go deeper into the world of arachnids than I ever had before. If the need to just be nice to ALL of Earth's creatures isn't enough to change your perspective on spiders....maybe these facts will:
These silky structures created by spiders aren't just merely there for you to walk into and start unsuccessfully attempting to remove from your face. Their webs have some rather unique properties and are a bio-engineering feat of immense proportions. Spider webs are unique to arachnids, no other species on Earth are capable of such construction. Spiders can spin up to 7 different types of silk - each designed for different purposes. From traveling, to shelter, to capturing prey, to attracting mates - a spider's silk is as unique as DaBaby's rhyme pattern.
We've been fascinated by nanotechnology for years. All along, not knowing that spiders held the key all along. Spider webs are made of nanostrands allowing them to possess incredible strength. In comparison, a single strand of a spider's web is 5 times that of steel. This biological capability is being utilized now in technology for versatile uses such as body armor and construction. The non allergenic properties of spider webs also make them a strong resource for biomedical applications such as skin healing, blood clotting, or as a bandage type dressing for slow healing wounds. Applications that could potentially preserve the future of humanity.
Spiders exist on nearly every continent in the world. They consume anything they can capture in their webs or forage for on the ground floor. This includes every type of insect, frogs, lizards, birds, and even fish. If spiders didn't exist, we would quickly go into a famine as insects would ravage every plant supply on Earth.
Spiders hold the balance of the ecosystem and ensure the survival of multiple plant species that would otherwise be decimated by insect populations. Bugs such as mosquitoes and ticks that can carry deadly viruses like malaria are also greatly limited by the presence of spiders in our environment.
So next time you think about smashing that 8 legged creature on your wall, consider the future technology that could be developed due to its presence. Think of the other pesty invertebrates that would be roaming freely throughout your house without it there to control. Yes, arachnophobia is a very real fear....but a world without spiders is one we should all fear even more.