For many of us, spiders inspire terror, or a stomp of a foot. But if they weren’t around, we would miss these eight-legged creatures, which share every continent except Antarctica with us. According to one estimate, spiders on one acre of woodland alone consume more than 80 pounds of insects a year. They are also diverse: Some care for their young; some eat snakes, mice and birds; some are brightly colored. An exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, July 28 to Dec. 2, 2012, explores the diversity and the science of spiders.
Above, a Mexican red knee spider, a type of tarantula that lives mainly on the Pacific coast of Mexico.