Spider Sniffing!


Would your family like to become certified members of the secret society of spider sniffers? Have you ever looked outside in your big backyard at night and wondered how many spiders are out there? Discover how amazing they really are!

Spider Sniffing

Many spiders are active at night, and their eyes reflect light, causing a night meadow to appear to twinkle with tiny blue lights. Let’s check it out! All you will need is a flashlight and your own backyard!

Place the back of the flashlight between your eyes at a 45-degree angle. Sweep your light across a grassy area several feet away. If you spy tiny blue lights reflected back at you, you’ve found a spider! Feel free to walk over and check it out! How many spiders can you find in your big backyard?

Congratulations! Once you have gone out sniffing for spiders, and find one, you can then be certified to enter the secret Society of Spider Sniffers!

Photo of a black and yellow garden spider
Black & Yellow Garden Spider trapped its prey on the web during late summer in Columbia, MO.
Noppadol Paothong
Right to Use

Spiders 101

Before we can become certified spider sniffers, let's learn a little more about how amazing spiders really are!

  • Missouri is home to over 300 kinds of spiders.
  • Spiders are arthropods and have eight legs. They have two body parts and do not have antennae.
  • Spiders have lived on earth for millions of years.
  • Males are often much smaller than females.
  • Females lay up to 3,000 eggs.
  • Spider blood is light blue.
  • Spiders shed their skin periodically.
  • Most spiders feature four sets of eyes.
  • Different species may have their eyes arranged in different patterns.
  • Spiders are nearsighted; they can’t see far away objects.
  • Spiders spin their webs out of protein packed silk they spin themselves.
  • Spider web material is the strongest fiber on earth. Scientists have tried to but have not been able to duplicate spider web material.
  • Jumping spiders can jump up to 50 times their own length.
  • A single spider can eat over 75 pounds of bugs in a year.
  • Spiders can only consume liquid food. The venom allows them to change their prey into a liquid substance. They use their strong sucking mouth parts to slurp up their “smoothie.”
  • Very few spiders can bite a human because they are not capable of penetrating our skin.
  • All Missouri spiders have venom, but most spider venom is harmless to people (but may cause irritation and swelling, like a mosquito bite).
  • There are only two spiders found in Missouri whose venom is harmful to us: the brown recluse and the black widow.

Collecting spiders is a good way to:

  • Get to know them better
  • Learn to identify them
  • Appreciate them

You can easily capture spiders using a small glass jar to observe closely.

  • You can capture some great photographs of these colorful and unusual creatures.
  • Set them free when you are done looking at them.
  • Hunt with a camera.
Additional Resources