A strange phenomenon is happening in Dallas, TX. Drivers commuting through the neighborhood of Lakeside Park have spotted a massive canopy of webs that runs the length of a football field. The canopy is draped over trees and bushes and reaches 40-feet high. Any driver curious enough to step out of their car will see thousands of spiders working together to create this web. Of course this is highly unusual, since spiders are known to normally work alone.
Scientists suggest the webs are strung in cooperation in order to take advantage of rare influxes of insects, a hatch of midges or other water-borne insects from the nearby lake.
Although unusual, it's not the first time spiders have spun a communal web in Texas.
A similar web was found inside Lake Tawakoni State Park in 2007. The appearance of that web surprised many arachnologists, who had never seen or studied such a phenomenon.
The spiders are pretty harmless to humans and should be simply admired for their amazing handiwork.
Entomologist/photographer Alex Wild explains in Scientific American how he created this absolutely stunning image of a Sydney funnel-web spider at an Australian venom chemistry laboratory:
Read the rest
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
You do, however, have MRSA
. An adorable cartoon at the new blog BuzzHootRoar draws attention to something I'd never heard of before — a lot of the time, when your doctor thinks you've been bitten by a poisonous spider, you've actually been infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria. No spider involved. And the cartoon comes with citations, which is lovely.
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.
Horrible, horrible things. Blogger Bug Girl explains the finer points of male spider anatomy
and, also, probably way more than you wanted to know about Peter Parker's personal life.
Six-eyed sand spiders make their living by hiding, burrowing into the sand where they lie in wait of passing prey. Given that, it's a bit surprising how ... cute ... the process of burrowing looks. All I could think while watching this video was, "Awww, who's a happy spider?"
Via Brian Malow
The Attleborough Sun-Chronicle
reports that a spider got inside a voting machine on election day
, thereby preventing the scanner inside from correctly counting ballots. Poll workers stayed up all night to count Rehoboth, MA.'s ballots by hand; presidential candidate Mitt Romney emerged victorious.
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
Spider molting from Karli Larson on Vimeo.
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!
[Video Link]. "A lot of people die. Just so you know."—Dan Lucal. (via Casimir Nozkowski)