European garden spider

European garden spider

This animation demonstrates the anatomy of spiders through the example of a common European species.

Biology

Keywords

garden spider, spider, Araneae, arachnids, spider web, spider silk, arthropod, arthropods, orb-weaver spider, chelicera, venom gland, prosoma, opisthosoma, silk gland, spinneret, poison claws, spider bite, animal, predator, biology

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Scenes

The European garden spider is found in Europe and parts of North America. It is also called the cross orbweaver, due to the markings across the back that form a cross. It lives in shrubs, trees and gardens. It usually sits in the middle of its web waiting for its prey to become entangled. It can reach 1.5 cm (0.6 in) in length and on rare occasion it can even grow as long as 2 cm (0.8 in). The male is smaller than the female.

The spider weaves a web to trap flies, mosquitoes and other insects. To do so, it uses the silk gland located in the opisthosoma to secrete a very strong substance consisting of proteins, called spider silk, whose tensile strength is five times greater than that of steel.

  • - Most spiders have 8 of these. The two middle eyes are capable of forming images and sensing color, while the lateral eyes play an important role in detecting movement.

The body of the European garden spider is divided into the prosoma and opisthosoma. The prosoma is formed by a fusion of the head and thorax and, typical of arachnids, it bears 4 pairs of walking legs. There are 8 simple eyes located on the anterior part of the prosoma. The prosoma also consists of the pedipalps and chelicerae. The latter are used in catching prey; they have venom glands attached to them.

  • - Spiders (like other arthropods) have an open circulatory system. Hemolymph fills the heart, the lymph vessels and the body cavities, which transports nutrients, waste and breathing gases.
  • - After mating, this is where the female stores the sperm, which is used in fertilization.
  • - Secretes a liquid venom used by the spider to kill its prey.

European garden spiders (like other arthropods) have an open circulatory system. Hemolymph fills the heart, the lymph vessels and the body cavities, which transports nutrients, waste and breathing gases. Malpighian tubules form the excretory system of arachnids (and insects). The tubules filter the hemolymph filling body cavities and release the filtrate into the intestine. There the useful nutrients (water, sugar, etc.) are absorbed and get back into the hemolymph; waste and toxins are excreted.

As all other arthropods, spiders have a central nervous system that consists of ganglia. Due to their well-developed central system, spiders’ pharynx is narrowed and almost blocked, therefore spiders can feed only by sucking up liquids. This is why they need an external digestion.

Females lay eggs in late fall which they deposit in protected areas. They cover their eggs with spider silk, forming egg sacs and then die. Spiderlings hatch out in early May. They differ from their parents only in terms of size and develop quickly, without metamphosis. Meanwhile, they shed their exoskeletons several times. It is not until the second year of their life that they become sexually mature.

  • - Most spiders have 8 of these. The two middle eyes are capable of forming images and sensing color, while the lateral eyes play an important role in detecting movement.

Narration

The European garden spider is found in Europe and parts of North America. It is also called the cross orbweaver, due to the markings across the back that form a cross. It lives in shrubs, trees and gardens. It usually sits in the middle of its web waiting for its prey to become entangled. It can reach 1.5 cm (0.6 in) in length and on rare occasion it can even grow as long as 2 cm (0.8 in). The male is smaller than the female.

The body of the European garden spider is divided into the prosoma and opisthosoma. The prosoma is formed by a fusion of the head and thorax and, typical of arachnids, it bears 4 pairs of walking legs. There are 8 simple eyes located on the anterior part of the prosoma. The prosoma also consists of the pedipalps and chelicerae. The latter are used in catching prey; they have venom glands attached to them.

The spider weaves a web to trap flies, mosquitoes and other insects. To do so, it uses the silk gland located in the opisthosoma to secrete a very strong substance consisting of proteins, called spider silk, whose tensile strength is five times greater than that of steel.

As soon as the prey is entangled in the web, the spider rushes towards it, wraps it and uses its chelicerae to inject both venom, secreted by the venom gland, and digestive enzymes into the prey. The spider thus digests and liquefies the tissues of its prey and then sucks up the liquid using its sucking stomach.

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