• Have four pairs of jointed walking legs
  • Have narrow, pointed, fang-like mouthparts called chelicerae
  • Eyes have only one lens and are called simple eyes
  • Have no Antennae
  • Body has only two sections: a fused head/thorax and an abdomen
  • Body covered completely by a flexible outer skeleton called an exoskeleton


  • Kingdom: Animalia
    • Phylum: Chelicerata
      • Class: Arachnida
        • Order: Acari (ticks, mites), Amblypygi (tailless whipscorpions), Araneae (Spiders), Opiliones (harvestmen), Palpigradi (microwhipscorpions), Pseudoscorpiones (pseudoscorpions), Ricinulei (ricinuleids), Schizomida (Schizomids), Scorpiones (scorpions), Solifugae (sun spiders, windscorpions), Uropygi (whipscorpions, others)

Student Challenge

  • Find three spiders that have built a web and describe their behavior and color. Find three spiders that live on the ground and describe their behavior and color. Compare the two groups of spiders.
  • How do spiders that build webs look different than spiders that hide?
  • How is the behavior of the two groups different?
  • Write and illustrate a child's book showing how adaptations of these two groups of spiders help them survive. 
  • Tips for Observing Spiders:
    • Never touch a spider! All spiders can bite, and a few are deadly. Observe from a safe distance.
    • Do your homework before making observations. Become familiar with the brown recluse and black widow spiders so you will know how to avoid them. Check outhttp://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef622.asp to learn about common spiders found around homes and buildings.
    • Wear gloves and use caution when turning over rocks and logs. There may be more than spiders living in that spot, and some creatures are just not happy about being disturbed. 
    • Carry a journal and pencil for recording observations.
    • Leave all creatures where you found them. No one likes being displaced... not even spiders!