Media Monday: The Real Creeps of Halloween

We typically think of ghosts and goblins on Halloween, right?

Plenty of creepy creatures really roam our world and cause a similar type of fright all year long. For some of us, when you know you’re in the presence of a spider, but you don’t know where it is, you might be slightly afraid. For those that dare, try to find the spider in the web below:

A man looks at the giant web of an orb spider. The spiders, which can string webs across streams, is native to the highland rainforest of Madagascar. Photograph by Matjaz Kuntner

A man looks at the giant web of an orb spider. The spiders, which can string webs across streams, is native to the highland rain forest of Madagascar.
Photograph by Matjaz Kuntner

Would you keep looking if you knew the creature that built that web was this orb spider?

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Female orb spiders like this one can spin webs up to a meter (three feet) wide. The spider has a leg-span of about 12 centimeters (five inches). Photograph by Matjaz Kuntner

This week, have your students take a look at National Geographic Education‘s insect collection to learn about the creepy crawlers that some of our explorers have encountered in their travels. Have them imagine what it would be like to explore a shadowy place, fully aware—or not fully aware!—that something with fangs, like this deadly funnel-web spider, may be lurking nearby. Talk about bravery, and how even these creatures deserve respect, awareness, and protection. They’re a part of the ecosystem, too!

Venom drips from the fangs of an Australian funnel-web spider. Fangs are long, pointed teeth. Fangs on some animals, such as this spider, are hollow. These fangs carry toxic venom, which can injure or even kill the victim of a bite. Photograph by Nick Moir, MyShot

Venom drips from the fangs of an Australian funnel-web spider. Fangs are long, pointed teeth. Fangs on some animals, such as this spider, are hollow. These fangs carry toxic venom, which can injure or even kill the victim of a bite.
Photograph by Nick Moir, MyShot

Getting bitten by a funnel-web spider sounds very scary!  But it would also be scary to encounter this small creature: a vampire bat!

This vampire bat, feeding on a healthy calf near Mexico City, is just one of many animals that practice hematophagy—the practice of drinking blood as a food source. In addition to vampire bats, many insects (such as mosquitoes and bedbugs), worms (such as leeches), fish (such as lampreys), and even birds (such as oxpeckers) are also hematophages. Photograph by Bruce Dale, National Geographic

This vampire bat, feeding on a healthy calf near Mexico City, is just one of many animals that practice hematophagy—the habit of drinking blood as a food source. In addition to vampire bats, many insects (such as mosquitoes and bedbugs), worms (such as leeches), fish (such as lampreys), and even birds (such as oxpeckers) are also hematophages.
Photograph by Bruce Dale, National Geographic

But, remember that not all spiders and bats are scary—most are harmless to humans. Take this tarantula, for example. Its larger-than-life appearance in movies and books has given us plenty of reasons to fear its hairy legs and monstrous body. But really, this creature is just as scared of us as we are of it.

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The orange-kneed tarantula spider is endangered and not harmful to humans. Photograph by Joseph H. Bailey, National Geographic

Have some fun with your students this week, when ghosts and goblins are on their minds. Weave in some lessons about the real things that creep us out! What other lessons about the natural world can you bring into your classroom during Halloween?

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo Education collectionInsects

Nat Geo Education articleSmall Spiders, Big Mysteries

Nat Geo Education spotlight: Funnel-web Fangs

Nat Geo Education photo: Bloodthirsty Creatures

National Geographic collectionTarantulas

One response to “Media Monday: The Real Creeps of Halloween

  1. Pingback: Weekly Warm-Up: 5 Ways to Bring Halloween to the Classroom | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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