Seaside and Wayside, Book One  by Julia McNair Wright

The Spider and His Dress

F LIES, wasps, bees, and ants are insects. Insects have six legs, and their bodies have three parts. An insect is at first a tiny egg. From the egg comes a grub, and the grub turns to a full-grown wasp, or fly, or bee, or other insect.

When it first gets its legs and wings, and comes out of its cell or case, it is as large as it ever will be. Insects do not grow after they get wings. The small fly does not grow to be a big fly, nor the small bee to be a big bee. The first size they have when they come out is the size that they keep.

The spider is a creature of another kind. It lays eggs, and out of the eggs come little spiders. They grow to be big ones. The spider changes its size, it grows. It moults its skin, as the crab moults its shell.

The body of the insect is hard, and is made in rings. It cannot pull off its coat to get bigger, as a crab can.

The spider's body is soft. Its skin is tough; it changes its skin often when it is very young.


A Spider

The spider has eight legs instead of six, and most spiders have eight eyes. The spider's body is in two parts. Its poison is not in a sting in the tail. It is in the base of the two jaws. The spiders are somewhat like crabs; somewhat like some insects, as the daddy-long-legs. The real daddy-long-legs is a fly with long legs. A spider that has just such legs is also called a daddy-long-legs.



The front part of the spider's body is not so large as its hind part. The front part has all the eight legs and the head.

The spider has no wings; he has two small front legs, or hands, with five joints. He uses them to feel with, and to take his food.

You will see on the head of the spider two short fangs. They are its jaws. They have the poison in them. They are used to bite.

The claws on the eight feet of a spider are very much like a lion's claws. The claws have a brush of hairs on them.

The spider can walk up a wall. The brush on his feet will not let him drop off. He uses his legs to jump and to walk, and to guide his thread when he spins.

Spiders spin webs. The hind part of the spider is large and round. It has six small, round tubes. Each of these tubes is made of many very small tubes. What are they for? They are to spin this web. What is the web?

In the tube is a kind of glue. When it is drawn out into the air, it gets hard. It is then a fine silk, and as it comes out it is woven into a net which we call a web. All spiders spin webs.

Spiders are of all colors. Their dress is like velvet. It is black, brown, red, and gold. It is in stripes and spots. The spider is like a king in his rich dress.

The eight eyes of the spider cannot move. They are set so that they can see every way at once.

While the spider is growing, he pulls off his dress as Mr. Crab does. The crab's bones are his coat. The spider has no bones, but his skin is hard and tough, and before the baby spiders are two months old, they shed their coats three or four times.

We say they moult when they do this. They spin a bit of line to take firm hold of. Then the skin on the front part of the body first cracks open; then after this the skin on the hind part falls off; and by hard kicks they get their legs free.

The new skin is fine and soft but soon grows firm and tough.

The spider is somewhat like a crab and somewhat like an insect. Look at this table.


You now see that a spider is nearer to the crab family than to the insects. They are all ring-made creatures; their legs and bodies are made of rings of various sizes, joined together.