Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A Helpful Resident !

Damhnán Alla
or in English
A SPIDER!


The damhnán alla or spider may not be your favourite creature to look at, but you have to admit they are fascinating. There is no shortage of wonderful facts about them that get them noticed either.

All spiders have 8 legs. They arthropods which are invertebrate insects  having an exoskeleton (external skeleton) , a segmented body, and jointed appendages.

Spiders spin webs that they use to catch food in. They have glands that make silk.The silk that they make is stronger than steel and as yet science has yet replicate anything similar.

They are the largest order of Arachnids and are 7th in the world when it comes to diversity among their populations.

Antarctica is the only continent in the world where you can't find spiders.

They don’t have antenna which is what separates them from insects.

There has only been one species identified as vegetarian the rest are all carnivores.

Within the home they consume about 2,000 smaller insects and mites per year. So love them or hate them, they are an important part of our ecosystem by helping to keep the insect population in check. It is estimated that the spiders in 1 acre of woodlands consume 80 pounds of insects a year.

Spider superstition: Never kill a spider or you will invoke bad weather.

The Spider's webs were used to stop bleeding when de-horning cattle and they were also used in wound care in ancient Ireland.
ref: The Tadhg Ó Cuinn (1415) manuscript.

24 comments:

  1. Always thought spiders got a bad rap...good to know they eat all those mites for me.

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    1. The majority of them are harmless and as per usual it is the few who give the others a bad name.

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  2. I think I'd like to live in Antarctica then. I don't hate them at all, but they do give me such a fright if they are very big. Fascinating info though.

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    1. "If you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive" is the saying I was brought up with, Mel, and I still get rid of spiders with great caution. There are sometimes just too many of them on a boat, so sadly occasionally I have a blitz and remove all the nests, but I hate to actually kill them. I hate to kill anything for that matter…except dog fleas.

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    2. I entirely agree with you Val.

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  3. Salutations to the Spider... Long live the Spider!!

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    1. I 'll drink to that one Gwen - Cheers m'dear

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  4. I don't like spiders at all, but I do keep a few around to eat the pesky bugs that come into the sun room. We have a resident spider who lives in our mailbox and kindly moves to the side when we put our hand in to retrieve the mail. She has been in there year after year, or perhaps she is replaced by her children that she taught to take up residence in the cozy junk mail bin.

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    1. You should write a book about your resident spider and of all the mail that he or she has seen, subject matter etc.

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  5. My sister is terrified of spiders. She was driving one day, perhaps sixty or seventy miles per hour, on the freeway. From the passenger seat I saw a small green spider making its way up her bare leg. I reached over, took it off and put it out my window. "What was that?" she asked. "Nothing," I replied. It's the only time I ever touched a spider. I figure I saved two lives that day, minimum.

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    1. You may very well have saved a lot more than just two ??

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  6. I hate de-horning cattle Heron. The cattle marts won't allow them in with their horns on. I think it's only the Kerry cow that is allowed to keep it's horns. One old farmer told me that if you can find a cobweb in your cow shed. You haven't got enough ventilation for your cows. I have read that cows use theirs to divine for water and to protect themselves. I also believe it's very unlucky to kill a leach. Honey and garlic is another good cure for dressing wounds. The ancient Aborigines discovered Tea Tree for it's amazing healing cures.

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    1. All very interesting Dave and if you take a look at the superstition about killing a spider, bad weather etcetera. It begs the question of how many spiders did the English kill last year ?

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  7. I have learned to live with spiders and respect them since I began living in the countryside.
    Will not kill them but move the smaller ones elsewhere with the aid of a jam jar and paper.
    The large ones I have to leave to Heron as they terrify me - in fact even the above pic sends shivers down my spine.

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  8. Thank you Jane !
    That photo is the best one of several macro shots that I took, for Sammy Spider was high on a wall above my head. Sammy is actually no more than half an inch wide and truly is nothing to be frightened about :-)

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  9. My first instinct when seeing a spider is to kill it, but I've learned not to do it, they are rather helpful about killing other critters for me, plus my husband says it's very bad luck to kill a spider. He usually captures them in a glass and puts them outside.

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  10. Thanks for your comment Janet and your husband is quite correct :-)

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  11. Sammy looks like a very fine specimen of his species - he will soon have all the lady spiders queueing up! I never kill spiders, I actually quite like them, but I go along with Val on the dog flea front and I would add mosquitoes to the list, but only because both of them like to bite me - so its a kill or be killed situation xxx

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    1. H'm! Fran. I guess that biology isn't one of your subjects , is it ;-)
      Because it’s bad enough to be a spider but male spiders have some of the worst sex lives. The females not only control how long the sex will last, but in some species they more often than not terminate the males right in the middle of the act when they come down with a serious case of the munchies.

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  12. The Storyteller. Said an Interesting subject. Living in a rural Irish cottage like you we have more than our fair share of spiders but they do us no harm. The only ones that I'm not that keen on are the large black hairy ones that hide in stone walls and give you the odd bite. The secret is keep away from spiders in stone walls. Hope you and Ms Heron are warm and happy, talk soon.

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    1. You are an unfortunate person or may be I am fortunate in that I have never come into contact with a carnivorous spider on this island or anywhere else.

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  13. I killed a small spider Sunday afternoon to please the missus and we have now received 1-1/2 inches of rain. I didn't know about the superstition. I wish I had read your post sooner.

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    1. Ha, ha, ha ! - that'll teach you :-)

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