Welcome to spider season!
As we move into Autumn we move into spider season! Whether you love or loathe them, September and October are the months we find more spiders in our homes as they search for mates and look for warmth.
Fear of spiders often develops in childhood, so having some spider fun when children are little may go some way to reducing the risk of fear developing.
Here’s our tour around what’s to love about spiders and some activities inspired by them.
All about spiders!
1. Spider webs are super-strong
Spiders spin webs to catch bugs to eat. It takes them an hour on average to spin a web. If a web was human-sized, the threads of the web would be stronger than steel. They are made of two types of thread – dry thread to build the frame of the web and sticky, elastic threads to catch their prey.
2. Spiders live everywhere (nearly)
Spiders live on every continent except Antarctica – so they wouldn’t ever meet Emperor penguins in the wild. Most species of spider live on land but some live in water. They can’t breathe underwater so they spin a web to catch air bubbles for them to breathe on the water’s surface.
3. Spiders have clever bodies
Spiders are not insects as they have two, not three, sections to their body and eight legs rather than six. They are arachnids. They have short hairs on their feet which enable them to walk on walks and ceilings. They only have small mouths so rather than eat their prey (bugs they have captured to eat) they inject them with chemicals to turn them into a drink instead!
4. Spiders are helpful to people
By catching bugs, spiders help reduce the numbers of flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches around. This makes life more pleasant for us and also reduces the risk of diseases spreading. Spiders can also be helpful gardeners for the same reason – eating the bugs that like to eat the flowers and vegetables we want to grow in the garden.
5. Finally, if you don’t want spiders in your house…
If you find spiders in your home, there is no need to kill them – they mean you no harm. Gently scoop them up and put them in a shed or garage instead. If you want to deter spiders from being inside, keep your spaces clean and tidy to prevent insects from settling, so spiders will look elsewhere for food. Or spray peppermint oil – spiders can’t stand it and will move out.
Now we know a bit more about these amazing creatures, let’s have some spider fun! Here are some spider activities to try this Autumn:
1. Web spotting
Early morning on the way to school or nursery (or just out for a walk!) is a great time to see spider webs at their most beautiful. They are often laden with dew or raindrops so each thread stands out and shimmers.
2. Spider crafts
If you’d like to create your own spider webs together, try these ideas. You can create painted webs using a marble painting, by rolling a marble over paper to make criss-cross designs. Take a look here for more instructions. Or gather some sticks from outside, get some wool and weave spider webs together by winding the yarn around the sticks, like this.
3. Spider books
If you’ve finished exploring outside and want to get cosy, there are some fantastic books to share about spiders. ‘The Very Busy Spider’ by Eric Carle is a beautifully illustrated book for preschoolers about how hard spiders work to spin their webs. And ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E.B. White is a story about a very smart spider who saves a pig. One to share with slightly older children, and loved by adults too.
Do you have any spider books to recommend? We’d love to hear them, and see your pictures of webs (whether they’re created by humans or spiders!). Send them to us or post them on our social media Twitter/Facebook/Instagram