Six Fun Facts about Barn Spiders
6 Fun Facts about Barn Spiders
Did you know that E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, based the titular character off of the common barn spider? The story goes that he had a spider friend who lived in the barn of his childhood, and that is how the character of Charlotte came about. In honor of Charlotte, we’ve compiled some fun facts about barn spiders that you may not have known before!
1. The scientific name for the barn spider is Araneus cavaticus.
In the story, Charlotte introduces herself as “Charlotte A. Cavatica,” a nod to the scientific name! Barn spiders are orb-weaver spiders that often weave webs in wooden structures, such as barns or sheds.
2. Barn spiders are small, only getting to be around three-quarters of an inch long.
They are usually yellow and brown with striped legs, and a black and white underbelly, though the coloring can be varied.
3. Generally speaking, you won’t find them to be very active during the day, since barn spiders are nocturnal.
They will hide during the day, then start to take their webs down and rebuild a new one each evening. Then, during the night, they sit in the middle of the web and wait for an insect to get stuck.
4. A barn spider’s web looks like the standard spider web that you think of… symmetrical spokes connected by a spiral inside the spokes.
4. The barn spider truly has “spide-y senses”—they can feel the vibrations of prey that is trapped in the web, and can glean information from the movement!
If they sense that the prey is a delicious meal, they move in and begin wrapping it with silk. Sometimes, the spiders will shake or sway the web in order to instigate a reaction from the prey, which enables them to get more information. This also helps to determine if it was actually debris like leaves or sticks that got caught in the web, instead of a tasty meal.
5. The venom of the barn spider is considered to be non-toxic to humans, on the same level as other non-toxic insect bites.
However, they can be aggressive towards each other and may attack in close quarters.
6. Barn spiders are most common in the northeastern United States and Canada.
You’ll find them hiding in wooden rafters or other wooden structures in the late summer and through autumn.