There are many kinds of spiders, but we all know some of them. The common garden-spider spreads its webs on the trees and bushes in the garden; the house-spider builds its web inside rooms, and these are the “cob-webs” that hang on the ceiling and which the sweeper has to clean away. There is a water-spider that lives and builds its nest in ponds. The trap door spider does not weave an ordinary web but makes a very clever little trap with a drop-door to it. All spiders use poison to kill the flies they catch, but the only one that can hurt human beings, and is a very large spider called the Tarantula. Most spiders are quite harmless, though some silly people are afraid of them.
The natural food of spiders is flies and small insects and it is to catch flies that the spider builds its web. The spider’s web is not a nest to live in, but a trap. It is like the fishing net with which the fisherman, catches the fish. A spider’s web is a very wonderful bit of work, and it is very interesting to watch a spider making one. The spider has inside it a kind of gum, which it spins into very fine, strong silky threads. Of course, to us the threads are very weak; but they are strong for the work they have to do, and can hold even big and active flies. The spider begins by fastening the ends of three or four long threads to the branches of a tree. These form the frame of the web. From there it runs a number of threads across, meeting in the center like the spokes of a wheel. Then it begins to fasten cross-threads round and round in a circle. When the web is completed, the spider sits in the middle and waits.
Presently a fly comes along and flies into the web. It cannot get away, because the threads are sticky and hold it fast. The more it struggles, the more mixed up it gets. And at once the spider runs out over its web, seizes the fly, squirts poison into it, and kills it. Then it sucks all the juice out of its victim, and when it has finished, unfastens the dry body and throws it out of the web. Then it mends the web, if it has been broken, and goes back to the middle to wait for the next silly fly.