Cover image for The world of the spider
The world of the spider
Mason, Adrienne.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Sierra Club Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 116 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published under title: The nature of spiders. Vancouver : Greystone Books, c1999.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL458.4 .M38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
QL458.4 .M38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Spiders are one of the most successful groups of animals on earth. There are almost 38,000 species of spiders, and they are found in every type of environment throughout the world, including seashores, deserts, caves and mountains. The species include the huge, hairy tarantula which lives mostly a subterranean life; the colorful crab spider, which often hides in flowers and may prey on bees or wasps; and the ubiquitous orb weaver, which may rebuild its wheel-shaped web every evening.

Besides exploring these and other tantalizing aspects of spiders, nature writer Adrienne Mason describes the role of spiders in myth and legend. She also examines how spiders are used in scientific research today and how the use of pesticides and loss of habitat are affecting them.

Throughout the book, stunning photographs show beautifully colored spiders on flowers or leaves, gossamer webs shimmering in the sunlight, and close-ups of monstrous-looking spiders. The result is a fascinating look at these creepy yet captivating creatures.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Spider is a marvelous look at one of the most successful animal groups on our planet. As Mason states in her first sentence, "Wherever you are, there is a spider within a meter of you." Introducing these predatory invertebrates as the world's dominant terrestrial carnivores (there are close to 38,000 known species of spiders, compared with 4,000 species of mammals), the text provides a good primer of spider biology, behavior, and folklore. Mason delves into the common families of spiders, spider silk and its manufacture (spider webs provide one of the best tools for spider family identification, as well as sophisticated traps for catching prey), anatomy, breeding, predation, and relationships with humans. Drawings in the margins illustrate such arcane anatomy as the claws and hooks on spiders' feet (for clinging to webs) and the fangs (complete with venom glands). The text is enlivened with quotations ranging from Charlotte's Web to J. Henry Fabre's early work on spiders to poetry and, as to be expected from the Sierra Club, is beautifully illustrated. --Nancy Bent

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. IX
I Silk and Venom: the Secrets of Successp. 1
II The Life of a Spider: From Egg to the Airp. 45
III Welcome to My Parlor: Spider Predationp. 75
IV Revered and Reviled: People and Spidersp. 99
For Further Readingp. 110
Appendix A Guide to Common Spider Familiesp. 111
Indexp. 115