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Arachnida

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Scorpions

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Scorpions have eight legs and a pair of front appendages called pedipalps. These pedipalps have claws for catching their prey. Scorpions have long tails with a telson at the end, a stinger that serves as an organ of defence.

On their bellies, scorpions have comb-like appendages that are used as sensory organs. They can have up to 12 eyes, but their eyes are not very well developed.

Depending on species, they range in length from one to 20 cm.

Pseudoscorpions

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These arachnids with their flat, oval bodies resemble tiny scorpions and, like them, have a pair of large pedipalps ending in pincers. However, they lack the stinger at the end of the abdomen, and their bodies are short and rounded at the rear. These insects average 2 to 4 mm in length.

Pseudoscorpions may have two, four or no eyes. Colour varies from yellowish beige to dark brown. The pincers are sometimes black.

Cobweb spiders

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Cobweb spiders, like all spiders, have eight legs. In most species, the abdomen is marked with colourful patterns that simplify identification. These spiders have “combs” on their hind legs that they use to wrap their prey in layers of silk.

The shapes of the webs woven by these spiders vary greatly from one species to another. The spiders often rest head down on their webs.

Tarantulas

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This family includes large spiders with bodies as big as a thumb and often even larger. Many species are quite hairy. Some are covered with special, highly urticating hairs that can be irritating on contact.

Theraphosa blondi

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Description

These are the largest known tarantulas. They can weigh over 120 g and their legspan can exceed 25 cm, with bodies more than 10 cm long.

Unlike other members of the Theraphosidae family, these tarantulas have a rounded cephalothorax (joined head and thorax). The colour of their bodies and legs varies from medium to dark brown, with red hairs.

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Poecilotheria regalis

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Description

The bodies of these tarantulas are about 7 cm long and up to 18 cm across. The cephalothorax is light coloured with two black bands in the middle, and the abdomen is dark grey with a yellowish-white band in the middle. The legs are banded grey and black.

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Damon diadema

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Description

Description of adults

These arachnids are from 4 to 28 mm long and resemble spiders. They are dull brown, with a flat body. Although they have four pairs of legs, they use only the three hind pairs for moving around. The very long and slender front pair of legs should not be confused with the pair of highly developed, spiny, pincer-like pedipalps. The front pair of legs is antennae-like and serves as feelers. A whipscorpion uses its pedipalps to seize its prey.

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Aphonopelma chalcodes

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Description

The females are generally a uniform tan colour. The males have black legs, a copper-coloured cephalothorax and a reddish abdomen.

In the males, the body is from 5 to 6 cm across. The females are larger, and may reach 5 to 7 cm in diameter, with a legspan of 10 cm.

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Fishing spiders

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Fishing spiders belong to the Pisauridae family and the Dolomedes genus. There are about 100 species in the world and a dozen species in North America, excluding Mexico. In Quebec, there are four species, all semi-aquatic: Dolomedes scriptus, Dolomedes tenebrosus, Dolomedes triton and Dolomedes striatus.

These spiders often attract attention because they are so large. The body of certain specimens, not counting their legs, can grow as long as 2.8 cm! Depending on species, their colouring varies from greyish brown to greenish brown. Females are generally larger than males.

After mating, the female spins a spherical silk cocoon in which she lays her eggs. She watches over it and carries it around with her, even on the water, until the eggs hatch. Before the spiderlings hatch, the female places the cocoon in leaves and spins a protective web shaped like a tent or a bell around it that serves as a nursery. The female protects the cocoon until spiderlings hatch. Once hatched, the spiderlings disperse.

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