Spiders play heroic role in Maine ecosystem

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- No, they won't give you superpowers. But spiders contribute to Maine in other ways that even a certain spandex-wearing wallcrawler can't match.

Spider-Man once again wowed fans in his latest movie adaptation. In its first weekend in theaters, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" starring Tom Holland made $117 million.

The new movie foregoes retelling the familiar origin story that has already been shown in previous big screen outings. For those not in the know, Peter Parker gained enhanced strength and the ability to cling to walls after being bitten by a spider that had been involved in a scientific experiment.

Of course, a real spider bite usually leaves its recipient with nothing more than an itchy lump. When that happens in Maine, a few species are the most likely culprits. In particular, four types of spiders are highlighted for their ubiquity across the state by the Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) on the section of its website devoted to pests.

The DACF identifies the house spider as an ardent builder, quick to abandon one web and move on to another. They are the bane of housekeepers with their tendency to occupy the corners of walls, floor joists and windows.

A summer trip to the beach may bring you into contact with a fisher spider. According the DACF, they can skate across the water and dive beneath the surface in search of small fish, tadpoles and other insects upon which to feed.

Like their namesakes, wolf spiders are nocturnal hunters. When they are not chasing after their prey through vegetation or across the ground, the DACF said they can be found biding their time in well-lit areas.

One of the defining characteristics of jumping spiders is right there in their name. Their DACF profile said they can often be seen hanging from a dragline after a jump that failed to nab their prey. Unlike wolf spiders, jumping spiders hunt during the daytime.

The DACF gives its assurance that no poisonous spiders are native to Maine. And like Spider-Man, they could even be described as heroes for helping to rein in destructive household and garden insects that serve as their food source. As Spidey himself might say about their role in the ecosystem, "With great power comes great responsibility."

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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