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Fun Fact Monday

November 4, 2013

What kinda spider sat down beside ‘er?

Muffet

Photo courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

We’ve all heard the Little Miss Muffet nursery rhyme. Haven’t you always wondered what type of spider it was that sat down beside her, frightening Miss Muffet away? Well, unfortunately neither we nor our world-renowned spider expert Dr. G.B. Edwards have that answer for you. However, we can tell you that of the 770 documented species of spiders in the state of Florida, only two genera are significantly venomous: the widow and the recluse. Four species of widow spider are found here, while only two types of recluse have been introduced and identified more than once, and a third type only once.

RedWidow

Latrodectus bishopi, the red widow, one of four species of widow spider found in Florida.

To finish the story of the nursery rhyme, we can tell you that Little Miss Muffet’s father, Dr. Thomas Muffet, was an English medical doctor who used the antibiotic properties of spider silk, venom, and blood to treat his patients and prevent infection in open wounds.  Little Miss Muffet was undoubtedly treated with these remedies on multiple occasions, to her likely dismay!

Clicking here will take you to detailed descriptions of these spiders as well as information on how to avoid them. Being able to identify the widow and recluse will ensure that you are more confident than Little Miss Muffet was the next time you come into contact with a spider.

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