Spiders and their bites in France

In France we can find about 1600 species of spider and as no doubt many will know spiders are not insects but are part of the class of Arachnids, in the same way that dogs are part of the class of Mammals or that Swallows are part of the class of Birds.

The two main differences between Insects and Arachnids is the number of legs: 6 for insects and 8 for arachnids. The body of insects is also composed of 3 parts (in general) clearly delimited: the head, the thorax and the abdomen. In arachnids we find only 2 parts - the cephalothorax and the opisthosoma or abdomen.

Spiders have venom glands that enable them to kill their prey when they bite them. Their prey is made up of insects of all types and given that they will also eat other spiders, males need to be especially careful when attempting to mate and it isn’t unusual for them to be eaten by the female.

All sounds a bit scary and most, if not all of us, will know someone with a phobia about spiders but are these hairy little beasts that inspire so much terror actually dangerous for us humans in France? The vast majority of spiders in France can’t actually penetrate human skin and of those that can most will result in nothing more than minor localised discomfort. However there are a couple of species whose bite may require medical attention and you can read more here with photos.