n popular usage, the term "tarantula" is loosely applied to any one of a number of large spiders. The famous tarantulas of southern Europe, whose bites were supposed to cause the dancing mania, were Lycosidæ, or wolf-spiders. Though various species of this group were doubtless so designated, the one which seems to have been most implicated was Lycosa tarantula (L.). On the other hand, in this country, though there are many Lycosidæ, the term "tarantula" has been applied to members of the superfamily Avicularoidea, including the bird-spiders.
A small family of spiders with only six eyes. They have also four breathing-holes in the front of the abdomen; but one pair leads to branched tubes instead of sacs. They are usually found under stones, with their legs drawn up close to their bodies, but can move very quickly when so inclined. Very few species are known, and none are common, in North America. At bottom of figure are the eyes as seen from in front.
This family includes the largest known spiders. The body is usually very hairy and dark-colored. Most species have only four spinnerets; and one pair of these are long, and are turned up behind the abdomen. They have four air-sacs under the front of the abdomen, instead of two, as other spiders. Their mandibles are very large, and work up and down, instead of sidewise. The eyes are collected together on the front of the head. They live only in warm countries. Specimens from South America are exhibited in every natural history museum. The figure represents Mygale Hentzii, a species living in Arizona and Texas.
Section of a spider to show the arrangement of the internal organs:
a, b, upper and under lips of the mouth; c, c, the œsophagus;
d, f, upper and under muscles of the sucking-stomach;
e, stomach; g, g, ligaments attached to diaphragm under the stomach;
J, lower nervous ganglion; k, upper ganglion;
l, l, nerves to the legs and palpi; m, branches of the stomach;
n, poison-gland; o, intestine; p, heart; R, air-sac;
S, ovary; t, air-tube; u, spinning-glands.
The intestine, o, continues backward through the abdomen to the anus, in the little knob behind the spinnerete. The brown mass which surrounds the intestine, and fills the abdomen above it, is supposed to be a secreting-organ discharging into the intestine at several points.
The head is not separated from the rest of the body, as in insects, but forms, with the thorax, one piece. On the front of the head are eight eyes, Q, which are differently arranged in different spiders. On the abdomen are several pairs of dark smooth spots, which mark the ends of muscles extending downward through the abdomen. The markings of this spider are very complicated. The spot on the middle of the front of the abdomen is a very common one, and, in some spiders, extends the whole length of the body. The waved lines on each side are also common, and, in long-bodied spiders, often form two bright-colored stripes, or rows of spots, running nearly straight the whole length of the abdomen.
In many spiders a brush of hairs takes the place of the middle claw, as in the jumping spiders. Spiders with these brushes on their feet can walk up a steep surface, or under a horizontal one, better than those who have three claws.
The legs are used chiefly for running, jumping, and climbing; but the front pair serve often as feelers, being held up before the body while the spider walks steadily enough on the other six. One or both of the hinder legs are used to guide the thread in spinning; the spider at the same time walking or climbing about with the other six or seven. The legs are seven-jointed; and on the terminal joint are three claws ( A, B, C) and various hair and spines.
The body is seen to be divided into two parts, connected only by the narrow joint, A, just behind the last pair of legs. The front half of the body, called the thorax, contains the stomach, the central part of the nervous system, and the large muscles which work the legs and jaws. The hinder half, the abdomen, contains the intestine, the breathing-organs, the principal circulating-vessels, the organs of reproduction, and the spinning-organs. Connected with the thorax are six pairs of limbs, four pairs of legs, B B B B, a pair of palpi, C, and a pair of mandibles, D.