The American Museum of Natural History notes - in The World Spider Catalog, Version 7.0 - that there are currently 39,490 identified species of spiders. Members of the animal kingdom, spiders are arachnids, not insects. Spiders have two parts to their body and eight legs. Insects have three parts to their body and six legs.
What type of spider is Charlotte? She gives us a clue when she tells us her name: Charlotte A. Cavatica. Let's break that down:
- The middle initial - A - stands for Charlotte's middle name: Aranea. That comes from Latin, since Araneae is the scientific name for spiders who, among other things, weave orb-webs.
- Cavatica - Charlotte's last name - comes from the Latin word cavus (which means a pit, hole or hollow). Spiders such as Charlotte, in other words, prefer to spend their lives in shady places - like one might find in a barn.
- At the time E.B. White was working on his book (including the year 1951), Aranea Cavatica was actually the scientific term) for barn spiders who mostly live in the area of northern New England and southeastern Canada.
Now that we know who Charlotte is, let's take a look at how she lives - and how she spins her webs.