Web of doubts over spiders

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 1994, 12:00am

THE ancient Greeks believed that a woman named Arachne, who was a genius weaver, was the ancestor of all spiders. In fact, the spiders and their relatives - the scorpions, mites and ticks - are all named Arachnids.

People have mixed feelings about spiders. Most people are usually afraid of spiders, but when they learn more about them, they become fascinated. Spiders are the most important predators of insects in the world. They are in fact man's real friends.

Like insects, Arachnids are arthropods which means they have joined legs and a hard skeleton that covers the outside of their body. A spider's body has two main parts - the ''front'' part is called cephalothorax and the ''back'' abdomen. The cephalothorax is where the spider has its eyes, mouths, stomach.

Scientists have named about 30,000 species of spiders. But they think these are only one-fourth of all the different spiders in the world. There are tow basic types of spiders - wandering spiders and web builders.

Since they hunt in different ways, these two types of spiders are built differently. Wandering spiders are built for walking, and most of them have hairy legs and bodies.

These hair are very sensitive, which help them to feel their way along the ground and locate their prey. Web builders have their bodies built for balancing on webs of silk.

The eyes of wandering spiders are very good, while the web-building spiders have tiny eyes, and very poor eyesight.