Caution. Two spiders in North America including Arizona are dangerous: the brown recluse and the black widow. The brown recluse is small, has a violin marking on its back, and hides. The black widow adult female is large and usually black, but others may be small and brownish and may have red or yellow hour glass markings on the dorsal side of the abdomen. All have a red or yellow hour glass on the under (ventral) side. These spiders should not be handled directly.
Other spiders are not so dangerous, are reluctant to
bite, and may be handled. However, they could be dangerous to allergic
individuals. Their bite is no worse that a bee sting or mosquito bite.
Still, care should be taken. Use a twig or piece of paper to transfer
the spider to the container or capture the spider directly in the container
if possible. If a jar is brought down over a spider, a piece of paper
can be slid between the jar opening and the substrate so that the jar
can be turned upright and then capped without loosing the spider. It
is convenient to have a small hole (approximately 1/4" diameter) made
in the container to add prey items. The hole can be corked or fitted
with sponge to prevent live contents from escaping.
Also look for and capture insects to feed the spider. Flies will be provided in the classroom, (fruit flies and house flies). Show students how to use pooters. Provide materials for students to make their own pooter. Two sizes of plastic tubing and old nylon stockings are the materials needed.
Need directions? See "Special Spiders Tools" for tips on making spider rakes and pooters.
Have students keep collecting records. On a small piece of paper, they should write down the following:
Remind students to keep the collecting record in the container with the spider. One week should be ample time for students to find a suitable container and collect a spider.
The University of Arizona
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
General Biology Program for Secondary Teachers