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The Greek poet Ovid wrote of a woman named Arachne who boasted she could spin better than the goddess Athena, which is why Athena turned her into a spider and spiders are called arachnids.

It has been estimated that the total weight of insects eaten each year by spiders is greater than the weight of all the humans on earth. Each acre of land in Britain contains approximately two million spiders, which adds up to about 200,000 billion spiders in total.

The Harvestman spider may distract predators by detaching one of its own legs. The sacrificed limb twitches to keep the predator interested, while its former owner scuttles away on the other seven.

In 1973, a spider named Arabella became the first to spin a web in space, thus providing an answer to the question of whether webs can be spun in zero gravity.

In 1994, Edward Doughney patented a latex ladder to enable spiders to climb out of baths.

In 1996, it was reported that US army trials showed that silk from the Golden Orb Weaver spider is twice as strong as the current US army body armour, Kevlar.

A spider's web consists of thick threads forming the radii and a thick spiral weaving them together. Only the spiral threads are sticky. The spider walks on the radii to eat flies caught in the web. That is why it doesn't get stuck itself.

The smallest spider is a mygalomorph spider from Borneo. It is no bigger than a pinhead. The Goliath bird-eating spider is the world's biggest, reaching up to 11ins across. When threatened, a Goliath spider makes a hissing sound by rubbing its legs together.

"The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces" (Proverbs, Ch.30).

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