Unless otherwise noted, information contained in each edition of the Kansas School Naturalist reflects the knowledge of the subject as of the original date of publication.

Volume 3, Number 4 - April 1957


Front cover: Spiders

THE WOLF SPIDER shown on the cover was photographed by E. L. Anderson, of the faculty of the Department of Art; the picture of the Jumping Spider on page 14 was taken by Gary Mason, student in the same department.

PDF of Issue


Published by
The Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia

Prepared and Issued by
The Department of Biology, with the cooperation of the Divisions of Education and Social Science

Editor: John Breukelman, Head, Department of Biology

Editorial Committee:
Ina M. Borman, Robert F. Clarke, Helen M. Douglass, Gilbert A. Leisman, Dixon Smith

The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to any citizen of Kansas.

The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February and April of each year by The Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas. Second-class mail privileges authorized at Emporia, Kansas.

THIS IS THE THIRD ISSUE OF The Kansas School Naturalist produced by members of the 1956 Workshop in Conservation. The committee in charge consisted of Mrs. Ida Mae Cook, Yoder, Kansas; Evan Lindquist (who drew the pictures), Emporia, Kansas; and Mrs. Katie M. Robinson, Cheney, Kansas. Previous issues produced by the 1956 Workshop were Hawks, Oct. 1956, and Life in a Pond, Feb. 1957. The committee wishes to thank Dr. Henry S. Fitch, of the University of Kansas Natural History Reservation, for reading the manuscript of this issue and for several corrections and constructive suggestions.


"Along came a spider, and sat down beside her" and Miss Muffet probably thought it some kind of insect - at least a great many people think of spiders as insects. They are quite different, as the next pages will show. They have eight legs and no wings; most of them have eight eyes; in many other ways they differ
from insects.

Even with their eight eyes, they are quite nearsighted. Alert as they are to prey caught in their webs or walking about near their lairs, this may seem surprising until one realizes that a remarkable sense of touch, rather than sight, gives them most of their information.

Though they have no wings, spiders have a system of dispersal that has scattered them over a greater part of the earth's surface than most winged creatures. They are found almost everywhere, above timber line on Mount Everest and at sea level in the tropics; in treetops and in short grass; in holes in the ground, under stones, and in woodpiles; about our homes, on water, and even under water.

Spiders range in size from a barely discernible speck to a spread the size of a man's hand. Though some live for a number of years, many have a life span of only a year, and for the latter, half of that time may be spent in the egg sac. In many species the male is much smaller than the female, one third to one half of her size; in other species the sexes are about the same size. The function of the male is to propagate the species, and after mating, he needs to be wary, lest he be eaten by his mate.

The female spider lays hundreds of eggs, which she wraps in silk from her spinnerets. She then hangs the cocoon, or egg sac, on the web or in a protected place; or she may attach it to herself with a silken thread, by which it bobs along after her as she goes in pursuit of prey. In many species, her energies are
spent with the laying of eggs and spinning the cocoon. She stands guard over the cocoon, but usually dies before the eggs hatch or the young emerge.

If the eggs are laid in the fall, they hatch in a short time, but spend the winter in the cocoon; and when the young get hungry, they eat one another. In the spring, the spiderlings emerge as tiny miniatures of their parents.

They do not pass through any kind of caterpillar or larval stage, so common among the insects. For a short time the young spiders go out a few feet into their new surroundings, finding their way back by only the silken guide line they have spun.

In many species, there is a dispersal process known as ballooning. The spiders form a procession and climb to some point of elevation - the tip of a blade of grass or perhaps a fence post - where each in turn faces into a light breeze, elevates its abdomen like a cannon and spins out fine lines of silk. When the pull of the breeze on the silk is sufficient to lift the spider, away it sails, downwind. Ships at sea have reported these small travelers hundreds of miles from land.

Instinct is strong in spiders. The young of an Orb-Weaver may be separated from its family, but when grown, it will spin exactly the same kind of web as all others of its kind. A female spider will guard her cocoon and fiercely defend it, but she is a rather stupid creature; for should another cocoon, or even a cork ball, be substituted, she will as fiercely defend it.

Spiders secrete a type of poison with which they paralyze or kill their prey, but it does not follow that what would kill a fly would harm a man . The Black Widow is the only spider in Kansas whose bite is sufficiently poisonous to cause concern. This bite may cause a few days of painful illness, but is seldom, if ever, fatal to a healthy person.

Probably no other creature of field or home has been so universally feared and shunned, and probably none has deserved it less. Legend and history have given us some interesting glimpses of spiders.

Greek legend tells us that a maiden named Arachne was so skillful at weaving that she challenged Athena, goddess of weaving, to a competition. So exquisite was the work of Arachne, that Athena, in a rage, destroyed the tapestry of her mortal enemy and condemned her to a life of spinning. Arachne became the Greek name for spider, and scientists use the name Arachnida for the class to which spiders belong.

A slight imperfection, claimed to be the sign of authentic Navajo weaving of blanket or basket, is said to be the result of a pact with the ancient Spider Woman in exchange for teaching the people of the Southwest the arts of spinning.

Legend says that Robert Bruce, the Scottish hero, lay hiding in a barn when his enemies came that way. Seeing a large, undisturbed web stretched across the doorway, they passed by. His ultimate victory was attributed to the fact that he was inspired to go out again for a final thrust by seeing a spider reach its goal after as many unsuccessful attempts as Bruce himself had experienced.

People of Italy believed the bite of the tarantula caused a mania, for which the only cure was to dance to utter exhaustion. The musical composition Tarantella was written primarily to simulate the dance.


A study of spiders is essentially a field study. A few live in our dwellings, and some others may be kept in confinement, but the majority can best be observed in the open air. Spiders exhibit such striking and interesting characteristics and habits that one is well rewarded for his study of them.

Some catch their food in webs; the strategem employed by some species is to affix a dragline to the web, and then to sit back out of sight with the line held taut. As soon as an insect alights all the web, the dragline is released, and the prey is hopelessly enveloped in the sticky web.

The Trap-door Spider lies in wait for prey, hidden in her silk-lined burrow with its hinged lid. Using her body as a wedge, she keeps the door open a crack, ready to spring out upon her unsuspecting prey. By using her mouth parts and her legs as braces, she is able to hold the lid down so that as much as ten pounds of force is required to raise it.

The Jumping Spider is frequently found on window sills. When a fly or other small insect comes by, she launches herself out upon it, bringing it back over the silken line she has spun out. These discarded lines are some of the cobwebs which catch dust and irritate the housewife.

Crab Spiders commonly live on flowers . They spin no webs, nor do they run after their prey. They merely rest in a likely spot, and while holding onto the flower, their forelegs catch a trespassing insect much as the jaws of a steel trap close on a victim. A remarkable thing about some of them is their ability to change colors to match the flowers on which they rest.

The Wolf Spider pursues her prey, often with her egg sac bouncing along behind her. When her eggs hatch, the tiny spiderlings crawl over her body, taking a ride wherever she goes.

Until maturity, if a spider chances to lose a leg, the leg will grow back. Because spiders are among the fiercest cannibals of the animal kingdom, this ability to regenerate lost parts is a useful trait. If they are to be kept in captivity, each must have its own compartment.

Since a spider's skin is not soft and elastic, it does not stretch as the spider grows. Therefore it must be shed at intervals. It splits along the sides and at the base of the legs and mouth parts. The top peels back like a lid, the body is worked out, and then one leg after another is withdrawn, leaving a shell which at first glance looks like another spider. As the spider rests from the exertion of shedding, the new soft surface hardens just enough so that the spider is ready to resume its growth while it develops a new and larger skin. This skin serves also as a support for the body, and is known as the exoskeleton, or external skeleton.

Among the spiders' worst enemies are certain wasps. The wasp stings and paralyzes the spider, deposits an egg in the spider's body, then drags it off and seals it into a cell. After the wasp egg hatches, the wasp larva uses the body of the spider for its food supply. Other animals commonly preying on spiders are lizards and birds.


Spiders' webs vary quite as much as their other characteristics. Each spider family produces its own type of web.

The Orb-Weavers, to which the Garden Spider belongs, all make wheel-shaped webs, large or small according to their own size and the location of the web.

Some Orb-Weavers, instead of completing their webs in the usual way, leave out sticky threads from one of the upper sections of the wheel. Through the center of this open space runs the communicating cord, on which the spider keeps an attentive foot. While resting in some sheltered nook a few inches away from her snare, she is ready to pounce when the shaking of the cord tells her she has caught a victim in her web.

A clever trap is made by the tiny Triangle Spider. She begins her work by laying down a strong foundation, and from this stretches four long lines which meet in a point to form a triangle. These four threads are connected by a number of short cross lines. To the point of the triangle is fastened a thread with the other end fixed securely to something a little distance away. When the trembling of the thread tells the little spider that some insect has struck her web, she quickly releases the thread, and the web springs back and entangles the prey in the fluffy meshes. If an unusually large insect has been caught, the spider springs her trap two or three times, hauling in the cord and letting it go again as quickly as she can so as to entangle the prey more completely.

The Sheet-Weavers weave their webs so closely that they are almost like the finest muslin. To this family of spinners belongs the hairy, long-legged spider which forms those untidy cobwebs in the corners and on the ceilings of rooms that are not often swept and dusted.

A sheet web is quite a different thing when it is made by an out-of-doors member of this family. Then it is snowy white, like a curtain fit for fairies. But we seldom see it like this, for a sheet is so delicate that it soon becomes soiled and torn. Late in the fall, edges and banks of ditches are often covered with the webs of Sheet-Weavers. They are rather a sorry sight as a rule - torn and covered with dust. But when frost comes, they are once more beautiful, sparkling in the sunshine as if they were covered with diamonds


The Garden Spider spins out from a bush or weed a silk thread which floats into the air and catches upon a nearby twig, making a bridge. The spider runs across the thread, adding other threads to strengthen it. Then she spins out more threads that reach to other twigs, forming a rough rectangular frame for her web. Next, she spins a line across the open space of the frame and walks along the line to its center and attaches a new line. Now she returns to the outer edge of her web, spinning the line longer as she goes. She is making her spokes - silk lines running from the center to the outer frame. Every time she makes one of the spokes, she walks on one that she has already made. Every time she goes through the center of the spokes, she adds threads which tie the spokes together; she has a cushion in the center big enough for her to sit on. Next, beginning at the center, she spins a spiral thread, round and round from spoke to spoke.

This web will not catch and hold insects, and so the spider spins a whole new set of sticky spiral lines. Beginning at the outside of her web, she spins a sticky spiral thread round and round from spoke to spoke. As she spins, she walks on the old spiral thread so not to get herself caught on the sticky lines. As she makes the sticky spiral lines, she cuts the old ones away. The plain ones were only to walk on, and so they are of no further use. Then she decorates her web by spinning a zigzag ribbon of silk across the center.

The spider cannot run over these sticky lines without first "oiling" herself, which she does by drawing her eight legs, one at a time, through her mouth.

The Garden Spider stays on the"cushion" in the center of her web and waits for the lines of her web to shake, which indicates that something has been captured. Then she runs quickly across her web, pounces upon the insect, and bites it. From her fangs come tiny drops of liquid which are poisonous to insects. She sucks the fluid from the victim's body; for, like all true spiders, her mouth is too small for any foods except liquids. Then she drops the insect and proceeds to repair her web for the next catch.


Three kinds of spiders have proven best for producing commercial silk. They are the Black Widow, Aranea, and Banded Garden Spider, which produces a web that has a metallic sheen and reflects light. These spiders are kept in glass jars and fed on flies, gnats, crickets, and other insects.

Spider silk is used in making gun sights, range finders, bomb sights, surveying transits and levels, astronomical telescopes, optical reticules, and the like. For a combination of elasticity and strength, nothing is superior to the spider web. The drag line of the spider is the strongest web. When a strand of drag line is drawn across a metal ring and inserted in a telescope, it will remain straight and true under almost any condition of temperature and humidity.

The plump abdomen of the spider is her silk factory. Inside the spider, the silk is in liquid form, but it hardens almost instantly when drawn from her spinnerets, which are tiny finger-like spigots near the rear end of her body. From these she gives off several kinds of silk. The spider does not spin out the silk; it is drawn from her body. Usually she fastens one end of the web and then moves away, so that the long filament is extracted from her body. Sometimes she draws out a few inches with her rear legs and lets the breeze do the rest. When she has released as much as she wants, she reaches back and cuts the strand with a claw on the tip of her foot.

To obtain the silk for man's use, the spider (usually the female because of her greater productiveness) is immobilized by positioning a staple over her narrow waist and into a small block of soft wood. The spider is induced to expel a bit of her drag line (the strongest web). This is now attached to a small brush and the web is drawn from her body, wrapped on a U-shaped frame and wound in spiral fashion at quarter-inch intervals. When the frame is filled it is placed in a specially designed box for shipment.

Sometimes an order is received for a much finer or split web. To obtain this, the spider is placed on her back and stapled down at waist and feet (two feet per staple) to keep her from reaching back and cutting the web. A length of web is pulled out and cemented down, and a needle is used to pick back and forth across the web until a snag appears; then a needle is inserted in the snag and worked back and forth until tile web is split into two fibers. The two fibers of the split web are wound on separate frames.

The biggest problem is trying to keep the spiders from pulling off their own legs-this is their means of escaping enemies. Most spiders can lose at least two legs without being crippled. They are able to regenerate smaller but perfectly usable legs.

A female spider may be silked more than twenty times, barring injuries, and can produce a hundred feet or more at a single setting. The spiders used for silking have a short lite span, usually only a few months.

Can you find the Reader's Digest for July, 1945? The article "Spider Silk" says, among other things, "Spiders have a silk to meet every need. Silk serves as a trap-line and a banquet hall, as a marriage bed and a winding sheet, as an alarm system and a fire escape, as handcuffs and a way of going places - it is the most versatile substance produced by any creature." Black Widow silk is one fifth the size of human hair, but is tougher than a strand of steel or platinum the same size. It is ideal for cross hairs used in the objectives of telescopes, microscopes, surveyor's transits, bomb sights, and other precision instruments.

Dr. Petrunkevitch of Yale University, known as the "Spider Man," probably knows more about spiders than any other living person. He says that, by and large, spiders are man's friends and should be treated as such. They carry no diseases, and if insects are the greatest menace to mankind, then spiders are our best friends among lower animals.


Spiders are arthropods - a group of animals that includes crayfishes, sow bugs, crabs, scorpions, mites, chiggers, centipedes, millipedes, and insects. About eighty per cent of all known species of animals on earth are arthropods.

Scientists have divided the animal kingdom into about a dozen groups called phyla (singular-phylum). One of these phyla, the Arthropoda, of arthropods, consists of animals with segmented bodies, jointed legs, and external skeletons. The arthropods are further divided into classes: one class consists of insects; another includes crayfishes, crabs, lobsters, and the like; still another includes the spiders and their allies.

According to Comstock, The Spider Book, the class to which the spiders belong is known to scientists as the Arachnida. This class includes not only spiders, but also scorpions, daddy-longlegs, ticks, mites, and chiggers. This class is divided into orders, one of which, the Araneida, consists of spiders. There are several families, some of which are represented in this issue of The Kansas School Naturalist. Each family is divided into genera (singular-genus), and each genus into species (this word is both singular and plural). Thus the broadest category of animal classification is the phylum, and the narrowest is the species. Any one species of animal belongs to a certain genus, any genus to a certain family, and so on.

spider diagram

Classification of an animal consists of placing it in each of the categories to which it belongs. Thus the scientific classification of the wolf spider, Lycosa avida, is as follows:

Phylum Arthropoda

Class Archnida

Order Aranida

Family Lycosidae

Genus Lycosa

Species avida

The genus and species names make up the scientific name of an animal. The genus name is capitalized; the species name is not. For each of the species of spiders described on the following pages, both common and scientific names are given.

To identify spiders, it is necessary to have a magnifying glass, a pair of forceps or tweezers, and a handbook or "key."' The book How to Know the Spiders, by
B. J. Kaston, is a useful one for learning to know most of the Kansas spiders.

The parts shown in the accompanying figure are among those most useful in identification. Spiders have two main body regions - a combined head and thorax known technically as the cephalothorax, and an abdomen. In some species the head part of the cephalothorax is separated by a groove or constriction from the thorax part, but in most species there is no boundary of any kind between them.

On the head area are the mouthparts and the eyes. The eight legs are attached to the thoracic area, and the silk-producing structures known as spinnerets are located on the abdomen.

The mouthparts consist of chelicerae, with movable fangs at their tips, and pedipalps. Each fang is provided with a duct which leads from a poison gland. The basal parts of the pedipalps are used to hold and chew food, and the long forward extensions, or palps, which are usually longer on males than on females, serve as feeders. The eyes are often characteristic of certain families of spiders. They vary as to number (eight being usual) , size, arrangement, and color.

The legs are seven-jointed, the segments in order from the body to the tip of the leg being the coxa, trochanter, femur, patella, tibia, metatarsus, and tarsus.
(Note that several of these have the same names as parts of the human skeleton, though there is not much resemblance between a human femur and a spider femur, or between the other correspondingly named parts.) The tarsus bears claws, the number and size of which vary in different species. The variations in the length and form of the leg segments can often be used in spider identification.

The spinnerets, usually six in number, are finger-like organs located near the tip of the abdomen, on the lower side. The end of each spinneret has several microscopic openings, through which the silken thread is drawn out when needed for web building or other purposes.

On pages 10 to 14 are described briefly some of the more common Kansas spiders. A Harvestman, or Daddy-Long-Legs, although not a spider, is also included, because it is commonly associated with spiders and resembles them rather closely.

daddy longlegs, cellar spider, tarantula


The Daddy-Long-Legs, or Harvestmen, are not spiders, but are included in order that some of the differences between them and spiders might be noticed. Most Daddy-Long-Legs have long, slender legs, and do not have a constriction between the cephalothorax and the abdomen. They have only two eyes, and they also have nine segments in the abdomen. There are many other external and internal differences, but those listed above are quite apparent and are sufficient to distinguish between the two orders, Phalangida and Araneida, to which Daddy-Long-Legs and Spiders belong.


The Short-Bodied Cellar Spider is often mistakenly called a Daddy-Long-Legs, because of its long legs. But this is a true spider, belonging to the order Araneida. The legs are slender and transparent, with slight brown coloring, and darker rings at ends of femur and tibia; a dark mark around the eyes forms a middle line. The abdomen is gray, with three or four pairs of dark spots and lighter spots. The length is from one-half to three-fourths inch. The web, which is found in dark places, is a small, tangled mass of threads.


The Tarantula is the largest spider in Kansas, often measuring two inches in body length. The body and legs are hairy and stout, with the color ranging from light brown to black. It is valuable as an insect destroyer and is not known to have any harmful habits. It is a species worthy of protection; it is also a good terrarium animal. Its bite is not much more serious than a bee sting, and the tarantula seldom bites. Tarantulas live on the ground under objects or in holes, and are not uncommon in the South and the southern part of Kansas.

wolf spider, fishing spider, grass spider


The Wolf Spider is the one often seen with several hundred small spiders covering her abdomen. The female is about one-half inch in length; the male is about one-fourth to slightly less than one-half inch long. Both are brown and gray. The markings are variable, sometimes difficult to see, but there is a reddish-brown band on the middle of the cephalothorax, and a wider pale abdominal band which is forked for about the front half of its length.


The Fishing Spider, or Nurseryweb Weaver, is often seen carrying beneath her an egg sac, or cocoon, as large as her body. It is so large that the spider is forced to run on the tips of her "toes" to keep the silken ball from dragging. The color of the spider is greenish brown or gray-green with a white band on each side of the body, two rows of white spots on the abdomen, six dark spots on the ventral, or lower, side of head and body region. The female is four-fifths inch, and the male one-half inch in length.


Grass Spiders commonly spin their webs on grass and sometimes in angles of buildings. The female is about an inch long; the male slightly smaller. Although the markings are often obscure, the abdomen is dark chestnut brown with a broad middle band on the lower surface of the abdomen, and a "V" underneath the head and body region. Annuli, or rings, around the legs me usually distinct. These spiders can be recognized by the long spinnerets and by the eye arrangement. The web is like a sheet, with a retreat at one side in which the spider hides while waiting for insects to strike the web. A few strands above the web cause insects to fall when they strike them.

black & yellow garden spider, banded garden spider, shamrock spider


The Black and Yellow Garden Spider, because of its bright yellow and black markings and its huge web, is one of the most conspicuous and most commonly known spiders. The female is often more than an inch long, and the male is about one-fourth inch in length. The abdomen is slightly pointed behind, and the front base has two small humps on each side so that the abdomen almost resembles a heart in shape. The front pair of legs is entirely black; the three remaining pairs are black except for the femur, which is yellow to red orange. The web is strong, is built in open sun, and is repaired each night.


The Banded Garden Spider is much like the Black and Yellow Garden Spider. The female is from three-fifths to four-fifths inch long; the male only one-fifth inch. There are many yellow, silver, and black cross lines on the abdomen, which is usually more pointed than that of the Black and Yellow Garden Spider, and does not have the humps. The webs of the two species are much alike, but the egg sac of the Banded Garden Spider is entirely different. It is shaped like a small kettledrum or teacup with a lid.


The Shamrock Spider is another that builds a large, round web. The members of this species do not always resemble one another, but the majority of the females have a three-lobed spot resembling a shamrock leaf. Sometimes this design is not well outlined except in the young individuals. The female is about one-half inch, and the male about one-fifth inch, in length. The color varies from pale green, brown, or gray to purplish red in the female, and is white or yellow on the abdomen of the male. The egg sac, although seldom found, is so translucent that the mass of eggs can be seen through it.

black widow, house spider


The Black Widow is our most poisonous spider; its bite is seldom fatal, but may be intensely painful. There is no reason to fear the Black Widow, because of its secretive habits. It will not attack a human being except in self-defense. The female is about a half inch long, body coal black, abdomen black except for red-orange or red mark on the ventral, or lower, side. In Kansas, this mark is usually in the shape of an hour glass, but in other parts of the country the mark is often of several different shapes. The young female resembles a mature male, having the same marking, but gradually loses all but the hour glass as she gets older. The male is usually about one-fourth inch in length, but the legs are much larger than those of the female. In addition, the abdomen is more elongate in the male than in the female, and has four pairs of stripes, red in the middle and white at the edges, and a row of red and white spots along the mid line of the upper side of the abdomen. The web is an irregular mesh, recognizable at a glance by coarseness of the thread, and found under stones and pieces of wood, stumps, holes, and outbuildings.


The House Spider, or Domestic Spider, as it is sometimes called, is the most familiar of all spiders in Kansas. The female measures about one-fourth inch long. The male is one-sixth inch long and has a more slender abdomen and longer legs. Some are lighter in color than others, ranging from dirty white to almost black. In the darker ones the abdomen has six transverse dark marks curved upward and connected by black spots at the ends. Some have a conspicuous black and white spot in the center of the abdomen. The web is irregular and usually beneath some protective object.

flower or crab spider, filmy-dome spider, jumping spider


The Flower, Goldenrod, or Crab Spider is often found on flowers. It is one-third to one-half inch long, milk-white or yellow, sometimes with a pink band on each side of abdomen, and with sides of thorax slightly darkened. The male is one-eighth to one-sixth inch long with cephalothorax darker at sides and abdomen marked with two dark marks or lines of spots with a dark stripe on each side. A change of color from white to yellow may take place in late summer. The egg sac, or cocoon, is protected by a leaf folded over it and fastened with silk.


The Filmy-Dome Spider is one-sixth inch long, yellowish brown with light stripe on each side of cephalothorax. The abdomen is yellowish white, marked with dark bands and stripes. The web is so delicate that it is often unnoticed. In the center of a maze of threads is a dome from three to five inches in diameter, under which the spider hangs at rest. An insect flying into the maze falls on the dome. The spider pulls the insect through the dome and destroys it. These webs are commonly seen in wooded areas and around shaded streams.


The Jumping Spider has a short body and stout legs. It is easily recognized by its quick jumping habits and the eye arrangement. The spider is black with many long, white hairs, a white band on front (or base) of abdomen, a triangular white spot in the center of the abdomen with two pairs of white bars below the spot. It is from one-third to one-half inch long. It lives under rocks and other objects on the ground.

spider photo


1. Look for spiders in as many different kinds of places as you can think of - under stones, boards, and trash, in grass and weeds, in flowers, on walls and windowsills, under porches, in cellars and caves, in or near webs, on dead plants, in the grooves in the bark of trees, in burrows in the ground - and see how many different kinds of spider homes you can find. Keep a record of them.

2. Look for spiders' webs. What shapes of webs can you find? Is the web smooth sheet or a network of threads? To what is the web attached? Is the spider on the web? If so, on what part of the web? How large is the web? Make sketches or take pictures of several different kinds of webs.

3. Imprison a spider in a tumbler or jar, and observe it carefully. Supply it with flies or other small insects for food. Put the jar lid on loosely, or cover the jar with a fine screen or piece or cheesecloth, so as to admit air. Put a few drops of water in the jar. Some spiders remain alive indefinitely in such a "cage." The species that get along best are usually those that do not build webs, such as the wolf spiders.

4. Preserve, in a mixture of about nine parts of 70% alcohol and one part of formalin, with a small amount of glycerin added, a collection of the common spiders of your neighborhood. Each type of spider can be put into an individual vial or small bottle and labeled. Keep a record, indicating where the spider was found, the date, the time of day, whether on a web or not, and other information that might be interesting later on.

5. If you can find a spider with her egg case, or cocoon, put the spider and the case, or the case alone, in a jar such as noted above and await results. You might be surprised at the number of young that hatch from a single egg sac. You might also be surprised to find that the young spiders feed upon one another. Don't worry about this; it is normal for many species of spiders to feed upon one another.

6. Find one of the large wheel-shaped webs with spokes radiating out from the center of the web. Carefully touch one of the spokes with the point of a pencil or a light stick. Does the spoke stick to the pencil and stretch as you pull the pencil away? Touch one of the circling lines. Does it stick? Are some of the lines more elastic or more sticky than others?

7. Look for a large web in the garden or yard in a place where you can sit down and watch comfortably for some time. When an insect becomes entangled in the web, what does the spider do? Some spiders remain at or near the center of the web when at rest; others hide in a "den" or "burrow" near one edge of the web. How does each type of spider discover the fact that an insect has hit the net? If you get tired of waiting for an insect to hit the web, you might catch a suitable sized insect and toss it lightly against the web.

8. Find a spider in the act of building a web. Where does it start? How does it makes it first framework? Does it start the spokes of the wheel before the circling lines, or after? Does it make all the radiating spokes in order, or at random? How does the spider keep the line it is spinning free from the line it is walking on? How does the spider keep from getting entangled in its own web?

9. After dark. using a miner's light or a flashlight, look for spiders in the garden, back yard, on the lawn, or among weeds and brush. With some practice you can soon detect the eyes as tiny spots of reflected light. Does night collecting yield any kinds of spiders you did not find by daytime collecting?

10. Try to find a spider burrow in the lawn or garden. Carefully pour water into the burrow without muddying up the surrounding area. Sometimes this brings out the spider and, in the latter part of the summer, the egg sac, or cocoon, also. In fact, this is about the easiest way to collect certain types of spiders. The spiders that normally live in burrows are often the easiest ones to keep alive in a schoolroom.

11. Try to find information about the economic uses of spiders. In what ways are they beneficial? How is spider silk used? How is it obtained? What is it worth per unit, and in what units is the cost given?


First Section-Three Weeks
June 3 to June 21, 1957
Credit-three semester hours Graduate or Undergraduate
Geography and climate of Kansas, soil erosion and conservation practices, water resources, grass as a resource, wildlife conservation, bird banding in Kansas, the schoolyard as a conservation laboratory, conservation of wildflowers, field trips, discussion groups, projects.

Second Session-Three Weeks
June 24 to July 12, 1957
Credit-1, 2, or 3 hours for 1, 2, or 3 weeks
This section will be devoted to production of a suggested guide for teaching conservation in the elementary grades. Through the cooperation of the Kansas Association for Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation, several $100 scholarships are available. For admission to the workshop or for information concerning scholarships, write the director, John Breukelman, State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas.


The Kansas School Naturalist Department of Biology 
  College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 
Send questions / comments to
Kansas School Naturalist.
 Emporia State University