Cooked tarantulas are seen at the 110th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, March 15, 2014. The club, which promotes scientific exploration, featured catering by chef and "exotic creator" Gene Rurka. Chef Rurka prepared a variety of dishes featuring insects, wildlife and invasive plant species. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Smithsonian looked at the recent startling video of a "spider rain" west of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Thousands of spiders can be seen moving up and down their Webs hanging from telephone wires and floating through the air.
According to biologist Marta Fischer of the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, however, the phenomenon is not so strange. ”This type of spider is known to be quite social,” she said. “They are usually in trees during the day and in the late afternoon and early evening construct sort of giant sheets of webs, in order to trap insects...”It’s Raining Spiders in Brazil
If strong winds come along, the web may detach from its anchors, carrying the spiders and their ruined home to new sites where they appear to “rain down.” Catching rides on the wind–en mass–was likely what happened in Santo Antonio da Platina.
It turns out the master designer behind this somewhat creepy form is in fact a tiny spider, only about 5mm in body length, that is hiding behind or above that false, bigger spider made up of debris. After discussing with several spider experts, we've determined it is quite probable that this spider is a never-before-seen species in the genus Cyclosa. This genus is known for having spiders that put debris in their webs to either attract prey or, as in this case, confuse anything trying to eat them.New Species of 'Decoy' Spider Likely Discovered At Tambopata Research Center [via David Mizejewski]
This is a spider, which was encased in tree sap while in the act of attacking a wasp. The sap turned to amber, leaving an incredible preserved scene, with even individual strands of silk from the spider's web remaining unbroken for 100 million years.
— The paper this is taken from (sits behind a paywall, unfortunately)
— Learn more about the preservation of bugs in amber at the website for NOVA's "Jewell of the Earth" documentary
Spiders don't have an internal skeleton like we do. Instead, their muscles are anchored to an exoskeleton—a sort of hard, semi-flexible shell that encases a spider's whole body. In order to grow bigger, spiders have to grow new exoskeletons and shed old ones.
Karli Larson found a spider on her window frame in the process of shedding its exoskeleton. Naturally, she filmed it and set the whole thing to music. She says:
The entire molting process took about 30 minutes to fully complete. This is the interesting part, sped up.
The camera is a little shakey, so if that bothers you, well, sorry. But I think this is still way fascinating.
Read more about spiders, their exoskeletons, and the molting process at HowStuffWorks
Thanks, Maggie Ryan Sandford!