In 2010 administrators at the Black River Wastewater Treatment facility in Baltimore, Maryland sought help for a massive 4-acre spider colony that had been established in the building. This .pdf of the resulting report describes, with pictures, the immense collection of spiders. With over 35,000 spiders per cubic meter, and web silk that (when swept aside) coiled to the size of a "fire hose", the massive web is a sight to behold. In the news previously, a massive group of spiders colonized part of a Texas park in 2007. Here is a video of a spider colony in Brazil, and the accompanying Wired article describing the phenomenon (previously). Spiders are typically solitary creatures, but some species will band together when the prey is numerous or large enough.
How to identify (or misidentify) the hobo spider (pdf). Did you find a hobo spider? Here's an easy, step-by-step guide to determining whether or not you really have one.
Giant spider prank [SLYT]
Milena Sidorova is a soloist in the Dutch National Ballet. The Spider. Full Moon (aka the Pillow Dance). Reality Conundrum.
"'average person eats 3 spiders a year' factoid actualy just statistical error. average person eats 0 spiders per year. Spiders Georg, who lives in cave & eats over 10,000 each day, is an outlier adn should not have been counted". Spiders Georg provides statistical explanation for one of the most commonly mis-represented scientific 'facts' promulgated for years. Although the math may be a little off and Georg may in fact be consuming many more spiders. You can read more from the man himself if you want to know more about the spider eating life.
Justin Gershenson-Gates makes insects and spiders from mechanical watch parts. The Verge shows more pictures including one of a piece under construction, more photos are on Inhabitat, there are yet more photos at Twisted Sifter, and the artist has a personal website.
New research suggests that it's the male black widow spider who chooses the female in order to avoid being post-coitally eaten, rather than the female who chooses the male. (article abstract)
Peacock Spiders don't hurt humans (they're tiny and 'insignificant'). Here's one on a human fingernail in Western Australia where they live. Peacock Spiders (Flickr image search results) are quite something. (Previously). The still images don't capture the mating performances properly. [more inside]
Macro Photos Of Cute And Cuddly Jumping Spiders by Thomas Shahan. Plus tips on how to shoot macro pictures of insects!
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
Jackson Landers tells a brief story about getting bit by a black widow
In Sri Lanka a new species of giant tarantula has been discovered by the British Tarantula Society. They prefer to live in "well-established old trees, but due to deforestation the number have dwindled and due to lack of suitable habitat they enter old buildings." For spider lovers, there's video footage.
Bug Art - Steven Kutcher creates paintings using bugs as living brushes. He's probably more noted as the working entomologist on a number of Hollywood films, including Arachnophobia. Bonus: Steven's E-Z Bug Collector Method (via FLUXO)
Nefertiti, the jumping space spider, has died. Neffi (whose name means "the chosen one") apparently adapted from the typical hunting behavior of a redback jumping spider to that of her microgravity environment, "sidling up to her prey instead of leaping onto it". [more inside]
Like spiders? How about giant spiders? How would you feel about having a couple move in next door? The nightmare begins at 1:24.
Last year the RSC [Royal Society of Chemistry] launched a huge public investigation into a matter of national importance: are spiders afraid of conkers? A tale of ancestral folk wisdom, natural insect repellents, and surprisingly well-designed school science experiments. Particularly worth it for the 5-minute documentary produced by the kids of Roselyon School.
It's a brand new nightmare fuel -- meet Mr. Clawed Cave Spider "When something touches their feet [their claws] may snap shut and seize their prey." Just look at this big guy who would love to drop in your hair as you spelunk in the caves of Southern Oregon! Oh hey those claws are BARBED too. So, totally will get caught in your hair.
The fear of spiders is hardwired into most of humanity, despite the creatures often being beneficial to people. For some reason, it's the odd and scary stories about spiders that stick in our heads.
"So I spent the night with a few friends ..." What do you do if you're staying in a room filled with brown recluse spiders? Well, if you're an entomologist you establish a base, erect defenses, and put together a coalition of allies.
Omid Golzar and Shikhei Goh are two photographers who share a passion for a similar subject; extreme close-up macro images of insects and arachnids. [more inside]
Public Service Announcement About Spiders. Just so you know.
The deadly social web: Anelosimus eximius, also known as the South American Social Spider, are spiders that work together to repair webs and capture and kill prey much larger than any single spider.
Spider silk spun into violin strings "Strands of spider silk have been used to make violin strings that have a unique and thrilling sound, thanks perhaps to the way the strands deform when twisted."
Wonderland, by Nadav Bagim, is a lovely macro-photo series which turns a kitchen counter into a miniature fantasy-land using household objects, and various critters as models.
Ants are one of the most abundant groups on earth, but, curiously, not a lot of things eat them. Yes, there are anteaters (who also eat a lot of termites), and some lizards specialize on ants, but the little critters are full of noxious chemicals and pheromones that put them way down on the list of predators’ preferred foodstuffs. Because of this, many other insects and arthropods have evolved to mimic ants, taking advantage of the aversion of predators to anything antlike. These mimics are called myrmecomorphs, and they’re the subject of a really nice eponymous feature in this week’s Current Biology.[via]
Excellent footage of the stunningly beautiful yet bizarre courtship and mating behavior of the Peacock Spider.This is quite possibly the first footage of this quality that shows this behavior. Many jumping spiders have elaborate courtship dances. More Previously.
An unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been that millions of spiders have climbed up into trees to escape the rising flood waters, cocooning them.
A new and previously unknown species of spider, Cerbalus Aravensis, (photo) has been discovered in the dune of the Sands of Samar (map) in Israel's southern Arava region along the Israel-Jordan border by a team of scientists from the University of Haifa-Oranim. Cerbalus is the largest arachnid of its type in the Middle East, with a leg-span that can reach up to 5.5" (14 cm). Unfortunately, its habitat is endangered thanks for rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries. [more inside]
Autistics on LSD Elephants on LSD British Troops on LSD Spiders on LSD Cats on LSD Argentinians on LSD Childhood Schizophrenics on LSD
A (mostly) vegetarian spider: "A small jumping spider has taken to hunting plants instead of bugs. Bagheera kiplingi dodges throngs of aggressive ants to feast on the leaf-tip morsels of acacia shrubs, making it the first mostly vegetarian spider known to science."
Be glad you don't live in Bowen, Queensland. The town is being overrun by giant bird-eating spiders, which are venomous and as big as a man's hand. They're the biggest spiders in Australia, a land known for monstrous creepy crawlies.
Yet another reason to be spider-averse - traumatic insemination.
Tree of Bees? Hills that move? A reflective humorous post about living in Southern California via mockable.org
The Insect Close-ups Flickr Pool is full of fascinating pictures. There are all kinds of wonderful images to be found, of spiders, ladybugs, hornets, aphids, grasshoppers, worms, water striders and those superstars of the insect world, bees and butterflies. You can also search a map for pictures by location. If you want to take your own bug photographer Mark Plonsky has written a short how-to guide. He has taken some pretty great photographs of insects himself.
Spiders invading Europe. Spiders invading England. Spiders invading Pittsburgh. Spiders invading your produce section. Spiders invading other spiders. [more inside]
All hail 70s-era Shatner! He began his career with some rather prestigious projects, appearing in The Brothers Karamazov and Judgment at Nuremberg, as well as some rather high profile appearance in Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But even then, there were hints of exploitation, such as 1961's The Explosive Generation, in which Shatner played a teacher whose job is endangered when she speaks candidly to kids about sex. And there was 1962's The Intruder, a Roger Corman film from 1963 in which Shatner played a carpetbagging racist inciting violence in a southern town. (Clip.) And, of course, there was Incubus from 1965, a horror film in Esperanto. (Clip.) But, after Star Trek, at the start of the 70s, something went haywire. [more inside]
Unusual ways of getting high: deliberately being bitten on the tongue by a cobra; injecting spider venom.
An absolutely terrifying new anti-AIDS campaign has been introduced in France. Not safe for work or arachnophobes.
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