- Interested in learning about arachnids?
- Here is a simple dichotomous key to common arachnids.
- Are you looking for lessons, activities, books and movies about Arachnids for teaching?
- News about arachnids
- Arachnology resources
- Arachnological societies and meetings
- AAS Facebook Page
- AAS Listserv
About Arachnids (many links are to Wikipedia pages on arachnids)
Arachnids are a class of arthropods (animals with jointed appendages) that have eight legs. Other arthropods are insects, crustaceans (like crabs and lobsters), and myriapods (centipedes and millipedes.
There are 11 living and 3 extinct orders of arachnids (see photos at left for examples)
- Acari - mites and ticks
- Amblypygi - tailess whipscorpions/cave spiders
- Araneae - spiders
- Haptopoda (extinct)
- Opiliones - daddylonglegs/harvestman
- Palpigradi - microwhip scorpions
- Phalangiotarbida (extinct)
- Solifugae- camel spiders/sun spiders/wind scorpions, solpugids
- Thelyphonida (formerly Uropygidae) - vinegarroons/whip scorpions
- Trigonotarbida (extinct)
Simple key to 8 common arachnid orders (Thelyphonids, Scorpions, Pseudoscorpions, Amblypygids, Opilionids,Acarids, Solifugids and Araneids)
There are 8 jointed walking appendages (legs)
1.a There is a tail .......... go to 2
1.b. There is no tail .......... go to 3
2.a. The tail is slender and needle-like .......... Thelyphonid - vinegarroons/whip scorpions
2.b. The tail is broad and has a stinger .......... Scorpion
3.a. There are a pair of scorpion-like claws .......... go to 4
3.b. There are no scorpion-like claws .......... go to 5
4.a. It is less than 5 mm (1/4") long and dorsoventrally (top to bottom) flattened .......... Pseudoscorpion
4.b. It is 8 to 50 mm (1/3" to 2") long .......... Amblypygid - tailess whip scorpion
5.a. There appears to be one body part and no "waist" .......... go to 6
5.b. There appears to be two body parts and a distinct "waist" .......... go to 7
6.a. Legs are very long and slender compared to the body .......... Opilionid - daddy longlegs/harvestman
6.b. Legs are short compared to the body .......... Acarid - mite or tick
7.a. First pair of legs is much longer than the rest .......... Solifugid - camel spider
7.b. First pair of legs is not much longer than the rest .......... Araneid - spider
Lessons, Activities, Books and Movies
Lessons (for classroom use)
Activities (for outreach or informal educational use)
- Writing Spider (aka Black and Yellow Garden Spider) Coloring Sheet (high resolution pdf, so download takes a bit of time)
Childrens' (3 to 18, PreK to 12th)
Type - F (fiction), NF (non-fiction)
Age/Grade Bands - PreK (0 to 4 years), EE (K to 2nd, 5 to 7), UE (3rd to 4th, 8 to 10), MS (5th to 7th, 11 to 13), J/HS (8th to 12th, 14 to 18)
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle - F, PreK, poetical introduction to the role of spiders
Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham - F, PreK to EE, how spiders help the animals at the zoo by keeping flies down
National Geographic Readers: Spiders by Laura Marsh - NF, EE to MS
Are you a Spider (Backyard Books) by Tudor Humphries - F, EE, biology of spiders
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - F, UE to J/HS, classic in children's literature, fantastic elements (talking animals), coming of age, adult themes (death of Charlotte, the spider, sacrifice for others) but an affirming ending.
Children's Guide to Insects and Spiders by Jinny Johnson - NF, PreK (the pictures) to MS
Youth to Adult (13 and up, 8th and up)
Spiders and their Kin (Golden Guide) by Herbert W. Levi, Lorna R. Levi, Nicholas Strevolasky (ill.) - NF, handy, pocket-sized guide to spiders with brief descriptions of biology, behavior and ecology.
Common Spiders of North America by Richard Bradley (Author) and Steve Buchanan (Illustrator) - Be sure and use the AAS member discount code (30% off!) you should have received in an email. http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520274884
- Charlotte's Web - based on the book by E.B. White, Dakota Fanning, Charlotte voiced by Julia Roberts
British Arachnological Society Website- scroll down to 'Spiders in the News and on the Web'
- Spiders.US An International Spider Community with a North American Focus. Spiders.us serves as a community as well as an informational and pictorial library providing accurate spider identification resources to the public. Our goal is to dispel myths, superstitions, and urban legends that cause many people to be fearful of spiders. We empathize and promise to put the squeamish and scared at ease as best we can. We will also defend spiders for the important roles they play in nature, natural pest control, medicine, engineering and other economic and cultural realms.
- Spider Myths Fallacies to Just Plain Weird Stories
- Spider Conservation in the USA. By Kevin L. Skerl
- Bug Guide.Net Chelicerate page
- Bites and stings of medically important arthropods. UC Riverside website
- Identification of the Brown Recluse
- Hobo Spiders
Sites based on Geographic Location
- Spiders of the Arid Southwest. Site at New Mexico State University edited by David Richman, Allen Dean, Sandra Brantley and Bruce Cutler. The arid Southwest can be defined as being composed of the states of Arizona and New Mexico, and part of the states of California and Texas and possibly Utah and Nevada. The northern parts of the Mexican states of Baja California Norte, Sonora, and Chihuahua could also be included in this region. The current work is, however, centered on the Arizona-New Mexico-Trans-Pecos Texas part of the arid Southwest, although it should be useful in the other mentioned areas.
- Spiders of Texas. This catalog is an update of a 1970 list put together Bea Vogel. Texas is a transition zone which includes extreme limits of many species and also has part of its border adjoining Mexico. The climate varies from subtropical in South Texas to temperate conditions in the panhandle and from desert in the west to swamp in the east.
- Araneomorphae of Mexico. These WebPages are intended to allow comparisons with other faunistic inventories; in particular, for morphospecies either new or difficult to identify because of the lack of taxonomic revisions. These images are also intended to expedite the identification process for difficult taxa by sharing them with other Arachnologists and to collaborate in species descriptions
- California Jumping Spiders. Great photos and information on the evolution of the genus Habronattus
- Conspicuous Spiders of Orange County. A pictoral guide to the common and conspicuous spiders of Orange County CA, a work in progress by Lenny Vincent
- More Spiders of Orange County by Peter Bryant
- Spiders of California checklist
- The spiders of the Kaweah Oaks (CA) Preserve. Photos, natural history, check list.
- The Colorado Spider Survey. Information on the Colorado Spider Survey and a searchable database of Rocky Mountain spiders
- The Spiders of Kentucky. Common Kentucky spiders
- A Guide to Missouri Spiders. Nice photos and descriptions of some of the spiders found in Missouri and adjacent states. Also general information on spiders. Maintained by the Conservation Commission of Missouri
- Spiders of Southeast Asia. High quality macrophotography by Nicky Bay in Singapore
- South India Spiders. A visually pleasing and very informative website dealing with spiders in general and specifically those found in southern India. Brought to all of the world by the Division of Arachnology in the Zoology Department at Sacred Heart College in Cochin, Kerala, India.
- Spiders of Northwest Europe
- Arachnology section of the Senckenberg Museum. Site is in German but there are a number of very nice photos of spiders.
- The Spiders of Europe and Greenland by Jorgen Lissner
- Spiders of Europe
- Arachnids of Germany
Sites on Taxonomy and Taxa
- Arthropoda Cytogenetics. The cytogenetic analysis that has been accomplished in different groups of Arthropoda has the aim of understanding the mechanisms related to the chromosomal evolution, the events responsible for intraspecific and interspecific variability in diploid number, the origin and differentiation of the sex chromosome systems. The mitotic and meiotic chromosomes have been investigated using classical, molecular and ultrastructural methodologies.
- The World Spider Catalog, maintained by the Natural History Museum Bern, Switzerland. First fully searchable online database covering spider taxonomy. After important first paper versions from Bonnet, Roewer, Brignoli and Platnick, this open access database includes all taxonomically useful information for all described spider species. Moreover, the World Spider Catalog Association provides free access to these references for its members.
- Common Names of Arachnids. A concordance of scientific and common names; download as pdf.
- Spiders and Arachnids. UC Riverside website
- Tree of Life -- Arachnida
- The Tarantula Bibliography. By Michael Jacobi, a well-done and complete website devoted to helping folks successfully keep tarantulas. Information about husbandry, natural history and a list of other resources.
- The Scorpion Files. Jan Ove Rein's excellent site contains information about and pictures of scorpions; also literature citations, and weblinks.
- Baboon Spiders. Theraphosids and "tarantula"-like spiders of Africa and the Middle East.
- Kari's Scorpion Pages. A personal site maintained by Kari J. McWest. Although different from the sites above in that it contains lots of personal information probably not of arachnological interest, the site does contain a series of links to other websites that feature annotated checklists to the scorpions of the United States.
- Salticidae.org by Jerzy Proszynski
- Jumping Spiders of the World Heiko Metzner's world-wide database of salticids
- Identified Linyphiid Epigynes a collection by Nina Sandlin
- AracnoLab a collection of Opiliones by Adriano Kury's
- Orb-web Construction Gallery by Samuel Zschokke
Arachnological Societies and Meetings
A Listing of Arachnological Societies and Journals, maintained on Wikipedia
The International Society of Arachnology. The organizers of the International Congress of Arachnology (every three years) and publishers of the invaluable Liste des Travaux Arachnologiques. Note: much information at this site is password-protected and available only to ISA members.
The Peckham Society. Gem of a website devoted to salticids that includes videos, photos, and publications of the Society's journal Peckhamia.
The American Tarantula Society. All about tarantulas
Arachnologische Gesellschaft. This site is mostly in German. Here one can find information on the Society's activities, publications, meetings, and also obtain checklists for arachnids of north-central Europe and links to many European arachnological societies.
Grupo Ibérico de Aracnologia. Homepage of the GIA, site is in Spanish
The AAS sponsors a listserv where members can post announcements, pose questions regarding arachnids in research, discuss scientific findings, and foster discussions of arachnological research topics. This listserv is not meant as a mechanism for the general public to post questions about “dangerous” spiders in their homes or to post pictures of mystery spiders. Such questions can be sent directly to Jerry Rovner (email@example.com).
If you are interested in joining this Arachnid listserv, follow the instructions below:
Send an e-mail message to:
In the Message Field (NOT the Subject field) write:
To unsubscribe to the listserv, send a message to:
In the Message Field (NOT Subject):
- Keep messages focused on topic and avoid “what is this spider in my basement” messages.
- Avoid sending large attachments.
- If members post a request for a pdf or some other large file, send the requested pdf directly to that person, not to the listserv.
- If offering a pdf, send a link to a site where the document can be uploaded by interested parties or ask interested parties to send you an off-listserv request for the file.
- The listserv is setup so that when you reply to a listserv post, both the listserv address and the sender’s address will be in the “To” line. Thus, if you wish to respond only to the individual who sent the original post, you can do so by deleting the ARACHNID@listserv.unl.edu address from the To line.