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Garden Allies: Spinning & Weaving Spiders

Articles: Garden Allies: Spinning & Weaving Spiders

Black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia). Illus: Craig Latker

From Folklore to Biological Control Agents
Despite their relatively small size, spiders loom large in the folklore and mythology of many cultures. Arachnida, the name of the arthropod class that includes spiders, stems from the myth of the Greek weaver, Arachne, who challenged the goddess Athena to a contest and was subsequently turned into a spider. The Navajo learned to weave blankets from a girl taught by Spider Woman. In West Africa, we find Anansi, the spidery trickster who later traveled with the slave trade to the Caribbean. In the British Isles, we hear the tale of Little Miss Muffet and, more recently, of Boris the Spider, the ill-fated arachnid featured in a song by The Who. In the United States, we sing to our children about itsy-bitsy spiders climbing up waterspouts, but also instill in them a fear of hairy, scary spiders.

The relatively sedentary snare builders (spinning and weaving spiders), and many of the wandering and hunting spiders (see Pacific Horticulture, October, ’08), belong to the true spiders (Araneomorphae). ...

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