Ecological Roles and Impacts on Human Society
As predators, Arachnids have an important ecological function. They eat many of the insects that destroy crops, infest homes, or just generally get in humans' ways. They help keep the population of other Arthropods in check (19). They also are the prey of other animals. Birds, other arthropods, including other arachnids, snakes, fish, and many other organisms eat them. As an important source of food to many of the creatures humans eat, they help contribute to our survival. That's not to say that arachnids are not pests themselves. Diseases such as Lyme disease may be carried by ticks (9). Spiders also may one day become an alternate source of silk, and so they will become an integral part of our economy as well as our ecosystem. As with everything, there is a balance that must be achieved. Arachnids have an important place within our delicate ecosystem (20).
Some poisonous arachnids can cause serious injury to humans, and, although it is rare, bites by certain species of scorpions or spiders can be lethal, especially to children and elderly. Arachnids may go unnoticed in some parts of the world, and in other parts, constant precautions must be taken to avoid bites by them. For example, in Arizona, it may be a good idea to check the insides or your shoes before putting them on. This is an important impact that arachnids have on humans (7). Even more so, Arachnophobia is a chronic disorder among humans. Many people are deathly afraid of spiders for no good reason. In fact, it is estimated that 23 million Americans suffer from anxiety attacks related to arachnids, namely spiders(13). It's amazing how many people can be affected by such small, generally harmless creatures. Still, arachnids dictate large parts of the afflicted peoples' lives. The disorder can be so severe that a simple picture of an arachnid could send an arachnophobe into hysterics (21).
Spider silk is very strong and durable. It has many potential uses for humans. "Tougher than Kevlar and stronger than steel, spider silk has long intrigued engineers and scientists because of its potential industrial and medical applications."(23) Silk from spiders, if humans can learn to manufacture it artificially, may one day be used for many useful things. In medicine, artificial tendons and ligaments may be constructed from spider silk. Bulletproof vests and parachute cords may all one day be made of spider silk (23). It is important to realize, that in spite of fear or disgust, arachnids play an important role in our lives, too.