The Nature of Spiders: Consummate Killers

Greystone Books, 1999
IBSN 1-57805-044-8

Published in the US as: The World of the Spider, Sierra Club Books

Published in French as: L’Univers des Araignées: Virtuoses de la Prédation, Editions du Trécarré, 2-89249-861-9

Spiders are one of the most successful groups of animals on earth. There are almost 38,000 species of spiders, and they are found in every type of environment throughout the world, including seashores, deserts, caves, and mountains. The species include the huge, hairy tarantula, which lives a mostly subterranean life; the colorful crab spider, which often hides in flowers and may prey on bees or wasps; and the ubiquitous orb-weaver, which may rebuild its wheel-shaped web every evening.

Besides exploring the physical characteristics and behavior or spiders, nature writer Adrienne Mason describes the role of spiders in myth and legend. She also examines how spiders are used in scientific research today and how the use of pesticides and loss of habitat are affecting them.

Throughout the book, stunning photographs show beautifully colored spiders on flowers or leaves, gossamer webs shimmering in the sunlight, and close-ups of monstrous-looking spiders. The result is a fascinating look at these creepy yet captivating creatures.

“Spider is a marvelous look at one of the most successful animal groups on our planet. … the text provides a good primer of spider biology, behavior, and folklore. Mason delves into the common families of spiders, spider silk, and its manufacture, anatomy, breeding, predation, and relationships with humans.” - Booklist

“Mason writes clearly, introducing the different groups of spiders and giving solid scientific explanations for characteristics that might otherwise appear merely bizarre. Tales of hunting, courtship, web-spinning, and dispersal fill the pages with surprise and enlightenment. Stunning photographs and line drawings make this a combination of coffee-table and reference book for all ages.” - BC Bookworld

“This book is an excellent introduction to the world of spiders. It offers clearly written information, detailed drawings to support certain materials, and lots of superb photos. The author imparts to her topic a sense of awe…. The information covered will satisfy the curiosity of anyone wanting to know more about spiders, and will whet the appetite of budding arachnophiles to know more.” - Canadian Field Naturalist

“Photographed up close, the spiders in this slender text display an otherworldly beauty. But it’s the text that makes this book shine. Even veteran arachnophobes will be charmed by author Adrienne Mason’s lively writing about the diversity of spiders and her delight in the strange details of their eating habitats and sex lives.” - Amazon


Short-list for the Canadian Science Writers’ Association Science in Society Book Award.


This book is out of print, but please look for it at second-hand book shops or your local library.