General Arachnid Resources

The following are annotated lists of books and other materials that deal with arachnids, especially spiders.  The lists are meant to help introduce the public to these fascinating animals.

  • Arachnids
  • Spiders
  • Spider taxonomy
  • Magazine articles
  • Children’s books
  • Internet sites
Recent Publications on
Nearctic Spiders:

Please remember that books, especially those marketed for children, go out of print quickly. Many books listed here may not be available except in libraries.

Robert Holmberg maintains these lists and would appreciate being informed of other materials or errors.

Robert Holmberg
Centre for Science
Athabasca University
Athabasca, Alberta
T9S 3A3

1. Arachnid Books and Chapters in Books

Breene, R.G., Chair of the American Arachnological Society’s Committee on Common Names of Arachnids. 2001. Common Names of Arachnids, 3rd ed.  Carlsbad, New Mexico: American Tarantula Society.

Available free from

Brusca, R.C. and G.J. Brusca. 1990. Invertebrates. Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates.

One chapter covers chelicerates, including the arachnids.

Cloudsley-Thompson, J.L. 1968. Spiders, Scorpions, Centipedes and Mites. Oxford: Pergamon.

Old, but very readable review of arachnids and a few other arthropod groups.

Dindal, D.L. 1990. Soil Biology Guide. New York: John Wiley & Sons. (Relevant chapters: 16: Scorpiones, Solifugae, and Associated Desert Fauna by C.S. Crawford; 17: Litter Araneae (Araneidae) by C.D. Dondale; 18: Pseudoscorpionida by W.B. Muchmore; 19: Opiliones (Phalangida) by A.L. Edgar; 20-23: Acari by various authors.

Evans, Gwilyn O. 1992. Principles of Acarology. Wallingford, UK: C.A.B. International.

Overview of the mites.

Kaestner, Alfred. 1968. Invertebrate Zoology, Volume 2: Arthropod Relatives, Chelicerates, Myriapoda.  Translated and adapted by H.W. Levi and L.R. Levi. New York: Interscience Publishers (John Wiley & Sons).

Old but thorough review of these groups.

Kondo, Herbert, editor. 1972. Amazing World of Animals – Arthropods. (formerly: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom). New York: Grolier Enterprises.

Excellent on arachnids.

McDaniel, Burruss. 1979. How to Know the Mites and Ticks. Dubuque, Iowa: W. C. Brown.

Old taxonomic key to major groups of the Acari.

Polis, G. A., ed. 1990. The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford, California: Stanford University.

The best compilation on this group.

Punzo, Fred. 1998. The biology of camel-spiders (Arachnida, Solifugae). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

A recent overview of this group.

Preston-Mafham, R. 1991. The Book of Spiders and Scorpions. New York: Crescent Books.

Not seen.

Ruppert, E.E. and R.D. Barnes.  1994.  Invertebrate zoology, 6th edition. Saunders College Publishing.

One chapter covers chelicerates, including the arachnids.

Savory, Theodore H. 1964, reprinted 1970. Arachnida. London: Academic Press.

Best technical description of the group. Covers extinct orders of arachnids.>

Savory, Theodore H. 1974. Introduction to Arachnology. London: Frederick Muller.

Brief introduction with poor illustrations.

Snow, Keith R. 1970. The Arachnids: An introduction. New York: Columbia University.

Very brief overview.

Walter, David Evans and Heather Coreen Proctor. 1999. Mites: Ecology, evolution and behaviour. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

A recent review.

Weygoldt, Peter. 1969. The Biology of the Pseudoscorpions. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University.

Still the best overview of this group.

Weygoldt, Peter. 2000. Whip spiders (Chelicerata: Amblypygi). Stentrup, Denmark: Apollo Books.

An excellent overview.

Wooley, Tyler A. 1988. Acarology: Mites and human welfare. Toronto: John Wiley and Sons.

A general introduction to mites.

2. Spider Books – General (for teachers and senior high school students)

Baerg, William J. 1958. The Tarantula. Lawrence: University of Kansas.

A short classic on the biology of “large hairy spiders”.

Baxter, R.N. 1993. Keeping and breeding tarantulas. Ilford, United Kingdom: Chudleigh Publishing.

Not seen.

Bristowe, William S. 1971.The World of Spiders. London: Collins.

An overview.

Browning, John G. 1981. Tarantulas. Neptune City, N.J.: T.F.H. Publications.

How to keep tarantulas as pets; written by a teenager.

Child, John. 1968. Australian Spiders. Melbourne: Lansdowne.

Good colour photographs.

Clyne, Densey. 1969. A guide to Australian spiders: their collection and identification. Melbourne: Nelson.

Not seen.

Crompton, John. 1950. The Spider. London: Collins. Reprinted 1987 by Nick Lyons Books, New York.

A rehash of very old and previously published material. NOT recommended.

David, Al. 1987. Tarantulas: a Complete Introduction. Neptune City, N.J.: T.F.H. Publications.

One of the better guides on how to keep tarantulas as pets.

Foelix, Rainer F. 1996. Biology of Spiders, 2nd ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

The best general text on spiders.

Forster, Raymond R. and Lyndsay M. Forster. 1973. New Zealand Spiders: An introduction. Auckland: Collins.

An excellent text on the biology of spiders but the examples are often specific to New Zealand and Australia.

Gertsch, Willis J. 1979. American Spiders, 2nd ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Still the book on the biology of spiders of North America for the general reader.

Jones, Dick. 1983. The Larousse Guide to Spiders. New York: Larousse.

A pictorial guide to the spiders and harvestmen of northwest Europe.

Lund, Dale. 1977. All About Tarantulas. Neptune City, N.J.: T.F.H. Publications.

How to keep tarantulas as pets with illustrations of other arachnids.

Mackie, D.W. 1978. How to Begin The Study of Spiders. British Arachnological Society.

A short booklet available from the society.

Main, Barbara York. 1964. Spiders of Australia: A guide to their identification with brief notes on the natural history of the common forms. Brisbane: Jacaranda.

The subtitle well describes the book.

Marshall, S. 1996. Tarantulas and other arachnids. Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational.

Not seen.

Mascord, Ramon. 1970. Australian Spiders in Colour. Sydney: A.H. and A.W. Reed.

Excellent colour photographs.

Nentwig, W., ed. 1987. Ecophysiology of Spiders. Berlin: Spinger Verlag.

A compendium of research on physiology and ecology.

Preston-Mafham, Ken and Rod Preston-Mafham. 1996. The Natural History of Spiders.  Ramsbury, UK: Crowood Press.

An excellent introduction.

Preston-Mafham, Rod. 1991. Spiders: An illustrated guide. London: New Burlington Books.

A shorter form of the book below. Several errors in text and illustrations.

Excellent color photographs and line drawings introduce spiders to the layman.

Preston-Mafham, Rod and Ken Preston-Mafham. 1984. Spiders of the World. New York: Facts On File.

Excellent color photographs and line drawings introduce spiders to the layman.

Shear, W.A., ed. 1986. Spiders: Webs, Behavior, and Evolution. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

All about the use of webs.

Schultz, Stanley A. and Marguerite J. Schultz. 1998. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide, 2nd ed. Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational.

A new guide on how to keep tarantulas.

Wise, D.H. 1993. Spiders in Ecological Webs. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press.

A review of spider ecology.

Witt, P.N. and J.S. Rovner, ed. 1982. Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

A collection articles of how spiders communicate by odour, sound and vibration.

Witt, P.N., C.F. Reed, D.B. Peakall. 1968. A Spider’s Web. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

3. Spider Books – Taxonomy (technical aspects of identification)

Davies, Valerie Todd. 1986. Australian Spiders, Araneae: Collection, preservation and identification. Queensland Museum Booklet No. 14, 60 pages.

The title says it all.

Dondale, Charles D. and James H. Redner. 1978. The Crab Spiders of Canada and Alaska (Araneae: Philodromidae and Thomisidae). The Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Part 5. Ottawa: Agriculture Canada Publication 1663.

Has a brief key to the spider families of Canada.

Dondale, Charles D. and James H. Redner. 1982. The Sac Spiders of Canada and Alaska (Araneae: Clubionidae and Anyphaenidae). The Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Part 9. Ottawa: Agriculture Canada Publication 1724.

Dondale, Charles D. and James H. Redner. 1990. The Wolf Spiders, Nurseryweb Spiders and Lynx Spiders of Canada and Alaska (Araneae: Lycosidae, Pisauridae, and Oxyopidae). The Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Part 17. Ottawa: Agriculture Canada Publication 1856.

Emerton, James. H. 1961. The Common Spiders of the United States. New York: Dover.

A classic originally published in 1902. See for an update of names.

Jones-Walters, Lawrence M. 1989. Keys to the Families of British Spiders.  Field Studies 9: 365-443.  Also published in a booklet by Field Studies Council No. 197 in Aids to Identification in Difficult Groups of Animals & Plants (AIDGAP).

A very good place to start with spider identification. Most of the families covered also occur in North America.

Kaston, Benjamin J. 1978. How to Know the Spiders, 3rd ed. Dubuque, Iowa: W.C. Brown.

Old but still useful for introducing taxonomy. See for an update of names.

McKeown, Keith Collingwood. 1963. Australian Spiders. [Sydney] Sirius Books, Angus and Robertson.


Platnick, Norman I. and Charles D. Dondale. 1992. The Ground Spiders of Canada and Alaska (Araneae: Gnaphosidae). The Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Part 19. Ottawa: Agriculture Canada Publication 1875.

Roberts, Michael J. 1985, 1987. The Spiders of Britain and Ireland. Volumes 1, 2 and 3. England: Harley Books.

Excellent colour plates in volume 3.

Roth, Vincent D. 1993.  Spider Genera of North America: With keys to Families and genera and a guide to the literature, 3rd edition. Privately published.

Available from the American Arachnological Society (see Internet site below).

Smith, Andrew M. 1994. Tarantula Spiders: Tarantulas of the U.S.A. and Mexico:  A Study of the Theraphosidae Family from North America. London, England: Fitzgerald Publishing.

The most complete guide to identifying North American tarantulas.

4. Arachnid Books for Young Children

Acorn, John.  2000. Bugs of Alberta.  Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishers.

13 of 125 vignettes are on arachnids.

Acorn, John.  2001. Bugs of British Columbia.  Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishers.

12 of 125 vignettes are on arachnids.

Bason, Lillian. 1974. Spiders. Books for Young Explorers series. Washington: National Geographic Society.

An excellent series of photographs for young children.

Bell, Simon M. (photographer). 1997. Insects and Spiders. Eye to Eye Books series. Toronto: Somerville House Books.

24 stero-images with 3-D viewer. Good images but little spider content.

Bender, Lionel and Philippe Selke. 1988. Les Araignees. London: Editions Gamma.

Not seen.

Biel, Timothy Levi. 1985. Spiders. (Zoobooks 2) San Diego, California: Wildlife Education Ltd., 930 West Washington Street, 92103.

A twenty-page booklet full of extraordinary photographs and good illustrations; all in full colour.

Billings, Charlene W. 1983. Scorpions. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company.

With black and white photographs and drawings; dated.

Black, Christine. 1984. Spider’s Web. London: Adam and Charles Black.

Araneus web construction.

Carle, Eric. 1984. The Very Busy Spider. New York: Scholastic Inc.

A simple story of a spider spinning a web. Simplistic drawings with a sparkly web.

Chenery, Janet and Marc Simont (illustrator). 1969. Wolfie. A Science I Can Read Book series. New York: Harper and Row.

A story about keeping an orb-weaving spider; Grade 1-2 reading level.

Chinery, Michael. 1991. Spider. Life Story series. New Jersey: Troll Associates.

Excellent photographs, illustrations and writing.

Climo, Shirley. 1982. The Cobweb Christmas. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

A fanciful Christmas story about spider webs becoming decorations on a tree.

Cloudsley-Thompson, J.L. 1973. Spiders and Scorpions. New Biology series. London: Bodley Head.

Well-illustrated introduction to arachnids.

Craig, Janet and Jean Helmer (illustrator). 1990.Amazing World of Spiders. New Jersey: Troll Associates.

Good drawings and text.

Crewe, Sabrina. 1998. The Spider. Life Cycles series. Austin, Texas: Raintree Steck-Vaughn.

Excellent photos and drawings of the life cycle of a black widow spider.

Dallinger, Jane. 1981. Spiders. Lerner Publications.

Not seen, grades 4 -10.

Gibbons, Gail. 1993. Spiders. New York: Random House.

Simple drawings and short, but accurate, text.

Goldin, Augusta. 1976. Spider silk. Harper and Row.

Not seen, kindergarten to Grade 3.

Graham, Margaret Bloy. 1967. Be Nice to Spiders. New York: Harper and Row.

A short story about the use of spiders’ webs for control of flies in a zoo.

Henwood, Chris and Barrie Watts (photographer). 1988. Keeping Minibeasts: Spiders. London: Franklin Watts.

Brief guidelines on how to collect, keep and release spiders.

Hawes, Judy. 1972. My Daddy Longlegs. Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Biological studies of harvestmen, kindergarten to grade 3.

Hogner, Dorothy Childs. 1955. Spiders. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Dated but with a lot of information.

Holmes, K.J. 1997. Spiders. Dangerous Animals series. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press.

Not seen. Reported to have not a spider but a harvestman on the cover.

Hutchinson, Ken. 1984. Spiders. London: MacMillan Education.

Catching, keeping and studying spiders for older elementary children.

Ivy, Bill. 1986. Spiders. Nature’s Children series. Montreal: Grolier Ltd.

Also published as: Les Araignees. Le Monde Merveilleauxdes Animaux. Good photographs and text. Major underestimate of number of species in North America.

Jennings, Terry and Michael Carlier. 1991. Les Araaignees. Editions Gamma Tournai.

Not seen.

Kalman, Bobbie. 1997. Web Weavers and Other Spiders.  New York: Crabtree Publishing.

Excellent photographs and writing.

Karvonen Films. 1978. Spiders. Flora and Fauna of Alberta series. Unit No. 4. Edmonton, Alberta: Alberta Education.

40 transparencies (35mm slides) and booklet by Robin Leech deposited in most school libraries in the province of Alberta.

LaBonte, Gail. 1990. The Tarantual. A Dillon Remarkable Animals Book series. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Dillon Press.

Good text and photographs.

Lane, Margaret and Barbara Firth (illustrator). 1982. The Spider. New York: Dial Press.

Good drawings, limited text.

Levi, Herbert W. and Lorna R. Levi. 1968. A Guide to Spiders and their Kin. Golden Nature Guide series. New York: Golden.

Magnificently illustrated pocket guide to the arachnids. Dated but still the best introduction – and useful for adults too.

Lexau, Joan M. and Arabella Wheatly. 1979. The Spider Makes a Web. Toronto: Scholastic Book Services.

Kindergarten to Grade 3.

Lovett, Sarah. 1991. Extremely Weird Spiders. Sante Fe, New Mexico: John Muir Publications.

Excellent photographs, many child-like drawings. Some information on non-spiders.

Martin, Louise.1988.

Bird-eating Spiders.

Black Widow Spiders.

Fishing Spiders. (Dolomedes and Argyroneta)

Funnel Web Spiders. (Some photographs are not these spiders)


Trapdoor Spiders. (Fang pictures are not these spiders.)

The Spider Discovery Library series. Vero Beach, Florida: Rourke Enterprises Inc.

Excellent photographs but some are not of the spiders under discussion.

McAuliffe, E. 1997. Black Widow Spiders. Dangerous Animals series. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press.

NOT recommended.

McAuliffe, E. 1997. Tarantulas. Dangerous Animals series. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press.

NOT recommended.

McDermott, Gerald. 1972. Anansi The Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

A West African tale of adventure and the moon. Very stylized drawings.

Mollel, Tololwa M. and Andre Glass (illustrator). 1977.Ananse’s Feast: An Ashanti Tale. New York: Clarion Books.

Anthropomorphic illustrations.

Morris, Dean. 1979. Spiders. London: Latimer House.

Very good drawings and text; up to grade 3.

Murray, Peter. 1992. Black Widows. USA: The Child’s World.

An overview of the life of an American black widow spider.

Murray, Peter. 1993. Tarantulas. USA: The Child’s World.

Excellent photographs and good text about North American tarantulas.

Parsons, Alexandra and Jerry Young (photographer). 1990. Amazing Spiders. Amazing Worlds series. London: Stoddart.

Excellent photographs; very good drawings and text.

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. 1981. The Lives of Spiders. New York: Holiday House.

Not seen but a Golden Kite Award Honor Book, grade 5 and up.

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. 1982. Spider Magic. New York: Holiday House.

Good black and white photographs of the structure and behaviour of several spiders, grades 1-4.

Penny, Malcolm. 1985. Discovering Spiders. Hove, East Sussex, England: Wayland (Publishers) Ltd.

Good colour photographs and drawings, glossary, references; grades 1-4.

Petie, Harris. 1975. Billions of Bugs. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

A counting book using insects (and spiders) for examples.

Petty, Kate and Alan Baker (illustrator). 1985. Spiders. Franklin-Watts First Library. Toronto: Franklin Watts.

Satisfactory to good drawings; not clear on tarantula nomenclature.

Podendorf, Illa. 1962. Spiders. A New True Book series. Chicago: Childrens Press.

Very good photographs, large type; Grades 1-2.

Riedman, Sarah R. 1979. Spiders. An Easy-Read Fact Book series. New York: Franklin Watts.

Photographs not well produced. Much better books available.

Resnick, Jane P. 1996. Spiders. Eyes on Nature series. Chicago: Kidsbooks.

Many good photographs and drawings, however, incorrect photos for daddy-long-legs spiders (actually harvestmen) and water spider (actually crustacean or pcynogonid).

Robertson, Matthew. 2000. Insects and Spiders. Reader’s Digest Pathfinders series. Montreal: Reader’s Digest Children’s Books.

Very good illustrations and text.

Rosen, Ellsworth. 1968. Spiders are Spinners. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Informational poetry that may require some interpretation.

Schnieper, Cladia and Max Meier (photographer). 1989. Amazing Spiders. Minneapolis, Michigan: Carolrhoda Books.

Excellent photographs and text.

Souza, D.M. 1991. Eight Legs. Creatures All Around Us series. Minneapolis, Michigan: Carolrhoda Books.

Mostly on spiders but also covers other arachnids. Very good.

Suzuki, David with Barbara Hehner. 1986. Looking at Insects. Toronto: Stoddart.

Most activities are for insects, but the final chapter is on spiders.

Tesar, Jenny. 1993. Spiders. Our Living World series. Woodbridge, Connecticut: Blackbirch Press.

Very good to excellent photographs, drawings and text.

Turcsanyi, Ervin. 1971. Hunters with Eight Legs. Great Briton: Richard Sadler Ltd., Burns and MacEachern Ltd.

Translated work on spiders, harvestmen and mites.

Victor, Joan Berg. 1979. Tarantulas. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company.

Fair amount of information; coloured sketches.

Walther, Tom A. 1978. A Spider Might. New York: Scribner.

Not seen, grades 3-7.

White, E.B. 1952. Charlotte’s Web. New York: Harper and Row.

How an anthropomorphic spider saves a pig from slaughter.

Whitlock, Ralph. 1974. Spiders. Young Naturalist Books. Hove, UK: Priory Press Ltd.

Black and white photographs with a fair amount of writing; dated.

Woelflein L. and T. Narashima.  1992. The spider. Dimensional Nature Portfolio series. New York: Stewart, Tabori and Chang.

A pop-up book, featuring a Redknee Tarantula.

Wolf, Jill. 1990. Spiders & Scorpions. Yellow Springs, Ohio: Antioch Publishing Company.

Eleven excellent photographs with some commentary. Also has 12 stickers.

5. Arachnid Articles in Magazines

Branson, Bradley Allan. 1973. Tarantula. Insect World Digest 1 (3): 20-23.

Coddinton, Jonathon. January 1973. The weavers. Discover. ?: 48-53.

Dondale, C.D. 1988. The tie that binds. Silk sustains spiders from the cradle to the grave. Nature Canada 17 (3): 13-21.

Goodman, Ailene S. 1983. Step into my parlour. Nature Canada 12 (4): 28-32, 34.

Macias-Ordonez, Rogelio. Oct. 2000. Touchy harvestmen. Natural History 109:58-?.

Levi, Herbert W. January 1977. Caught in the intrigue of spider orb webs. Science Teacher 44 (1): 16-19.

Levi, Herbert W. 1978. Orb-weaving spiders and their webs. American Scientist 66 (6): 734-742.

Login, Gary R. and Clifford A. Pickover. 1977. Sticky traps and spider prey. Carolina Tips 40 (7): 25-26.

Lucas, F. January 1964. Spiders and their silks. Discovery 25 (1): 20-26.

Phillips, Kathryn. June 1991. Spider man. Discover 12(6): 48-53.

An article about Charles Kristensen who collected arachnids for a living.

Savory, Theodore H. 1962. Daddy longlegs. Scientific American 207: 119-128.

Savory, Theodore H. 1966. False scorpions. Scientific American 214(3): 95-100.

Scanlon, Kevin. 1992. Behold the mite. Equinox, Number 62: 34-39.

6. Internet Sites for Arachnids

Acarology (mites) Home Page:

American Arachnological Society:

American Tarantula Society:

Ant Boy’s Bugworld! (for children) – Spiders:

Arachnid phylogeny: http:/

Arachnology: The Study of Arachnids:

Arachnology: The Study of Arachnids – For The Young Ones (and their teachers):

Biosis Internet Resource Guide for Arachnida:

British Arachnological Society:

Canadian Arachnologist:

Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes:

Discovery Channel Online – Spiders – In Your Own Backyard (for children):

Harvestman – Opiliones (photographs from Europe):

Harvestmen photographs from Brazil:

International Society of Arachnology (IAS):

Nearctica – Natural History – Chelicerata – General:

Preliminary list of salticid spiders of Canada: /data/salticidae/salticidae.htm

Provincial Museum of Alberta (some spider information):

Rochdale State School, Australia – Spiders (for children):

Scorpion Files:

Spider Myths Site, The:

Spiders of the Eastern United States:

Some spiders collected from George Lake, Alberta:

Spiders, Calgary:

Systematics of the Cheliceramorpha:

Tarantula Care Sheets:

Tree of Life – Arachnid phylogeny:

World Wide Web Sources – Spider Lesson Plans:

Young Entomologists’ Society (Y.E.S) [Warning: Site is now highly commercial.]:

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