Spiders: Araneae

 truly don’t even know where to start with this, the most popular of arachnid orders. We all know spiders. Some of us even love them. Even those that don’t love them may go out of their way to gently remove a spider from their home by moving them outside; because even if you don’t love them, you probably at least respect their ecological role.

The spider order, Araneae, has been divided into two suborders: Modern spiders, (Opisthothelae, which contains two infraorders, Mygalomorphae and the Araneomorphae. Isn’t taxonomy fun??) and primitive spiders, Mesothelae (which only contains one extant, or living, family). The taxonomic classification of spiders is a hotly contested subject among arachnologists, and is rapidly changing with the advent of genomics. 

We have a lot of arachnids to cover this month, and I want to give some of the lesser known orders their time in the spotlight. Spiders will always have their celebrity status at MBHI, so I will cover the spider suborders (and infraorders) more in-depth during a later issue.

Spider Fun Fact! There is (at least) one described spider species that is mostly herbivorous. Bagheera kiplingi is a species of jumping spider from Central America. 90% of its diet consists of “Beltian bodies,” a kind of pointed nub that grows on Acacia trees, and are rich with lipids, sugars, and proteins.