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Situated in the midwestern United States, Ohio is, according to the Ohio State University at Marion, host to close to 600 species of spiders, including specimens from 39 arachnid families. Although the typical reaction on spotting a spider is to either run or squash, most of these tiny crawlers are completely harmless to humans and, in fact, beneficial to the environment.
Web builders construct silken, webbed structures based on intended function. These spiders use up to seven different varieties of silk, depending on if the web's purpose is to protect eggs, catch prey or to simply create a soft, safe retreat. Common families of web builders found in Ohio homes and gardens include cobweb spiders, orb weavers, cellar spiders and funnel weavers.
Hunting spiders, according to the Ohio State University Extension, can be divided into two groups: active and passive. Active hunters venture out to search for prey and drag it back to their webs, while passive hunters simply sit in their webs, wait for prey to happen along, then pounce. Active hunters common to Ohio include wolf spiders, jumping spiders and nursery web spiders. Common passive hunters in the state are grass spiders, crab spiders and sheetweb spiders.
Almost all spiders have the potential to bite and inject venom, but fortunately these bites are virtually harmless. Because spiders are adapted to subdue and kill insect prey, their fangs are too small, and their venom too minimal, to cause anything more than redness, itching and and minor irritation to humans. Only the black widow and brown recluse have proven to be dangerous to humans, but these spiders are rarely found in Ohio.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, spiders are tremendously beneficial to the environment. As the largest group of small predators, spiders are a vital link in the natural food chain. In addition, environmental studies have shown that spiders play a large role in controlling invasive and destructive insect populations that would otherwise damage crops, orchards, lawns and gardens.
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