Catching a Spider: Catch and release for Kids

How to safely Catch A spiderYou may love or hate spiders (although I fear most are in the second category) but despite whether you love or hate them,  spiders play an important role in the environment. When my children and I stumble on any animal we usually take time to look at it and talk about that animal’s role in the environment. Spiders are no exception although this time we had to get a little more hands-on!

Miss Possum found a  huntsman spider in the house and it was a perfect opportunity to teach the girls that we don’t need to kill an animal to get it out of our house. Instead we can release it outside.  So we did.

What you need to catch a spider

  • A container or a cup that’s bigger than the spider
  • A piece of paper (or cardboard, if you don’t feel that’s thick enough).

I should remind you all here to check the type of spider it is before catching it. If it’s venomous it would be better left for the professionals and save this activity for a spider that you know is quite harmless.

Before you try to catch the spider to release it outside, talk about the spider. Here are some questions you can pose to your children:

  • How many legs does it have?
  • What does it eat?
  • Where are its eyes?
  • Why do you think it’s in our house?
  • Why shouldn’t we kill it?
  • Why are spiders important for the environment?
  • Do all spiders make webs?

Catching a Spider

We looked in our wildlife guide-book  to find out if the huntsman spider was poisonous (I already knew the answer, but I think it’s good for children to find out themselves). We also learnt a lot about them. We learnt that a huntsman spider is nocturnal, that it doesn’t make a web but hunts its food at night and that they are great for around our house because they eat cockroaches. We also admired the features on its body.

How to catch a spider

Next, you’ll need to catch it.

I caught it before I realised this would be a good post for you guys (the things I do for a blog post!) and so I tipped the spider out and did it again while getting hubby to take the photos.

I must admit, I did squeal a couple of times. They are just so fast and although I love spiders, I’m not fond of having them run up my arm. I tried not to get silly about it and reassured the girls I wasn’t scared. Still, I did see my children get slightly more anxious after that (darn instincts, why did I squeal!)

  1. Catching a spider works best if your spider is on a flat surface. Have both your cup (or container) and piece of paper ready and close by you.
  2. Grab your cup and quickly place it over the spider (try not to squish those little legs).
  3. Then, slowly move the paper under the cup.
  4. Put your hand up under the paper to keep the spider contained. There, wasn’t that easy?!
  5. Then, release it outside!

How to Catch a Spider

Spiders in your home

Yesterday, Miss possum found another huntsman inside, although this one was much smaller and she wanted to catch it herself. I was surprised but she did it and she did it without squealing too!

It’s so lovely to know that my children are already thinking to take animals outside rather than killing it (we catch moths and geckos too). This little activity really does teach your child that every animal has its place in the world and it’s important that they do their job… just outside!

Have you ever caught a spider? How do you feel about spiders in your home?


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  1. says

    I love most bugs but the two that give me the willies are big spiders and millipedes….blah! I would just have to skip that lesson. But I got fanatical with butterflies one time. We had purchased one of the painted butterfly kids. I raised the caterpillars into butterflies and then decided I wanted to continue the cycle so I found out what kind of flowers they liked. They ended up laying hundreds of eggs and I caught all those teeny tiny caterpillars and put them in mason jars and fed them until they grew into butterflies. We released all of them. You should have seen my house. We had jars EVERYWHERE. But it was fun and interesting.

    • Penny says

      Those two bugs are very squirmy so I can understand why they give you the willies. :)

      I adore your story about the butterflies, how wonderful that your parents let you go with it and keep all the jars there. Did you get any photos? Those are the memories we cherish forever are’ they!

      • says

        So sweet that you thought I was a kid when I did that but no, I was an adult. We had purchased the butterfly kid for my niece’s birthday party. (She was more like a daughter than a niece) She had a bug birthday party so we purchased the butterfly kit and an ant farm. I LOVE kids and doing fun educational things so sometimes I can go a bit overboard. :)

        • Penny says

          He he he, Carmody, that’s even more awesome that you were an adult. I think we might be kindred spirits! I have a blog written all about Wildlife education for kids. It’s obvious that I go a bit overboard! :p

  2. says

    We love spiders because they eat a lot of the pesky insects that we don’t like in our home so we tend to let the non-venomous ones share our house and we love looking at spider webs.

    • Penny says

      We usually do to but this one was quite big. Also, and i’m not sure if it’s just huntsman spiders, but they seem to like to crawl over your face when you’re asleep, so outside it went 😛

  3. says

    We currently have a huntsman living in the bedroom as I can’t catch the thing…those blighters are fast…and huge! It will come as no surprise to you that i’m not exactly keen on them but I did love all the information in your post Penny. You always give me such a different perspective on wildlife and how I could turn it into a fun learning experience for the kids xx

    • Penny says

      Jode you’re the best. You always make me feel good about my posts! Oh and good luck with getting rid of that spider!

      and think of you during this hard time too xx

  4. says

    spiders are not too welcome in my house especially with my older girls. The shrieks that emanate from their room when they encounter any kind of bug is truly awesome. My 6 yr old grandson however, loves all types of bugs much to his mothers consternation

  5. Karen says

    Hi Penny, you have a big heart for tiny animals. The kids will surely pass the learning to the next generation.

  6. says

    I love spiders… but I have to admit I have that squeal instinct too!
    In my last house we has lots of those huntsman spiders (or a similar species?) but they were all eaten by the house spiders. (I don’t know what they were actually called… smallish web-builders.) It was amazing (and a little unnerving) to see such giant spiders caught and eaten by something a quarter of their size.
    Here in this house we have a huge spider in the garage that ate a lizard once. I don’t know what kind she is. She looks like a huntsman but she has a web.
    Gosh, I don’t know any of my spiders’ names, do I? Ha! The little guy and I will have to research…


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