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Ask a Ranger: NC State Parks Year of the Spider 2017

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 10:00am
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Ask a Ranger: NC State Parks Year of the Spider 2017


Click the player above to listen to the episode. Read the article below to learn more about spiders.


Why Spiders Are Awesome

Canopy jumping spider

Canopy jumping spider
K. Bischof, Pettigrew State Park


Spiders are amazing creatures with several unique adaptations that you can observe first hand! They are an important part of the natural world and should be respected and appreciated. More than 500 species grace our state and peacefully co-exist with us.

Caterpillars make silk, snakes make venom, but no animal has mastered the use of silk and venom in daily life like the amazing spider. All spiders have venom, except for one family called Uloboridae which includes the Featherlegged Orbweaver that occurs in North Carolina. Only two spiders have venom that are dangerous to humans: the Black Widow and Brown Recluse. The Brown Recluse does not live in the wild in North Carolina and is only known from a handful of locations in far western North Carolina, plus a few sites where they moved with people from their natural home range in the southern gulf coast. The Black Widow does live all over North Carolina, but only in dark, damp spaces that are usually out of the way. Shine a flashlight before reaching under your house or in a firewood pile.

Spiders have seven types of silk glands to use different silks in their daily life. A standard “orb” spider web contains strands of non-sticky silk as the spokes with sticky silk for the spiral and to attach the two together during construction. They also have specialized silk for wrapping prey, for making a “retreat” or hiding spot, for wrapping egg cases and even for a kind of locomotion called “ballooning.”  When spider density is too high, some spiders climb to a perch and release thin strands of silk to catch the air and float to a new home. It's like flying a kite on a windy day and drifting in the air!

As amazing as their webs are, you may want to duck next time you’re hiking in the woods in late summer and fall. Still, they can rebuild daily and it takes about 45 minutes to make a complete web, so don’t feel too bad if they get wrapped around your bike helmet!

Spiders live across North Carolina and you likely have some that live on your front porch or in your house!  If so, just wave as you walk by knowing they can help control harmful insects like mosquitoes, gnats and biting flies. They are happy to share the natural world with us!


About the Ask a Ranger Podcast

Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess host the North Carolina State Parks Ask a Ranger Podcast series. Their guest this episode is Brian Bockhahn, the Piedmont Region Education Specialist for N.C. State Parks. He also wrote this accompanying article.

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For a full list of episodes, visit our BuzzSprout page.

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An inviting trail at William B. Umstead State Park

8801 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27617



Map of North Carolina

GPS: 35.8905, -78.7502


  • November to February:
    7:00am to 6:00pm
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  • May to August:
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  • September to October:
    7:00am to 8:00pm

Closed Christmas Day

The gate at Crabtree Creek opens at 7 a.m. daily as part of a pilot program to allow early access to the trails system.
Campers: from April 1 to November 1, the family campground gate will remain open an additional hour after the hours posted above to allow campers access in and out of the park during that time. Please note that once the gates close, they are locked until the park reopens the following day. There will be no entry or exit permitted, except for law enforcement or medical emergencies.


  • November to February:
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  • May to August:
    8:00am to 9:00pm
  • September to October:
    8:00am to 8:00pm

Closed Christmas Day



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Closed Christmas Day


EXHIBIT HALL inside visitor center:

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Open April 1 to November 1