Is it true that female spiders bite and male spiders dont
bite? How can you tell the difference between a male spider and a female
It is not true - All spiders can bite, both male and female, but not all are large
enough to cause harm, and some species are hardly venomous at all.
In a number of species though, the female spider is much larger than the male -
perhaps because she needs the extra food to produce all the eggs. A good example
is the American black widow - and its close cousin called the REDBACK SPIDER in
Australia. In both the male is a tiny, insignificant thing, rarely much bigger
than the head of a match. The female on the other hand can have an abdomen as large
as 12mm (half an inch) and can be very dangerous to young people and the old or
frail. A strong fit adult will usually get sick, but rarely dies these days.
And the only sure way to tell the difference between a male and a female spider is
to refer to an identification chart, and even then it can be difficult in some
species. I would keep well away from any spider I wasn't sure about, but at the
same time treat them with respect. Without spiders we would very soon all be up
to our ankles in flies and other insects. Spiders are very important in keeping
insect numbers under control.
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Update: June 2012