Spider preparing a fly for dinner

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We found this little fellow in the garage preparing dinner. Despite a sultry summer, we've been free of flies and I figure it's all thanks to Team Cellar Spider.

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Critter Catcher: grab and evict spiders without killing them or getting close to them

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The Critter Catcher is a long rubbery picker-upper gadget, enabling the user to easily pick up and evict spiders without harming them or having to get too close. You can buy one for $17 (a generic clone is $20 on Amazon). I'm buying one to serve hors d'oeuvres at an unpleasant party I intend to host. Read the rest

In 1932, a spider that was trapped in a clock became famous

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"Spider in a Bitter 18-day Fight Against Time." This headline reads like Upworthy clickbait, but it's from a 1932 newspaper article about a tiny arachnid in Ohio that became famous for repeatedly attempting to weave a web between the minute hand and the hour hand inside a clock. The web tore every time the hands separated, but the spider would try again. After a little girl named Louise Thompson noticed the Sisyphean spider and told her family about it, word spread around the neighborhood and eventually reached the media.

From Nag on the Lake:

By this time the insect had grown to the size of an ordinary house spider, and the hands of the clock were covered with fine threads. The clock and its eight-legged prisoner were taken to the University of Akron where a biologist attempted to unravel the mystery of how the spider was surviving without a food source.

But there were protests over the fact that the spider was being kept in the clock, instead of being released into the wild, where it could experience its true spider nature. From About:

Not everyone was taken with the spider in the clock. Some were appalled by the entire spectacle. In particular, the members of the Akron Humane Society deplored what they perceived to be a case of arachnid imprisonment (albeit self-imprisonment).

On December 10, an agent of the Society, G.W. Dilley, issued an announcement to the press, declaring that he would permit Kraatz one week to study the spider, then he would demand its release.

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Reminder: don't set fire to spiders while you pump gas

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A foolish motorist was lucky to escape unharmed after trying to kill a spider in Center Line, Michigan, with fire. At a gas pump. While pumping gas.

After spotting the terrifying creature and perhaps remembering the Internet's advice on how such things are best disposed of, he whipped out a lighter and promptly set ablaze everything in front of him. He put out the fire himself with a nearby extinguisher, but not before the pump was destroyed.

Fox News Detroit reports that he later came back to say he was sorry.

This charred fuel pump says it all. We are told his car was barely damaged from the flames. But his embarrassing mistake didn't stop the man from coming back the next day as a customer.

"He was sorry," Susan said. "He was sorry, he said he didn't know. It is just one of those things that happen - stupidity."

Adams said this serves as a reminder about being careful around gas pumps. Whether it is using a cell phone or static electricity, the smallest spark can cause a gas station fire.

It is not noted in reports whether the spider escaped immolation. Read the rest

Motherfucking tarantula on a motherfucking plane

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A baboon tarantula loose on a Delta plane caused a three hour flight delay in Baltimore on Wednesday that ended when the airline brought in another aircraft to fly passengers to Atlanta.

According to Delta, the spider had escaped from a cargo container. The spider was eventually found and had never made it into the passenger cabin.

"Safety and security are our top priority," the Delta spokesperson told The Baltimore Sun.

According to Wikipedia, "most baboon spiders are not considered dangerous to humans." Read the rest

Gigantic 40-feet-tall spiderwebs found in Dallas

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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. Read the rest

Photographing a spider's fangs

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 on a stick

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 Read the rest

You were not bitten by a brown recluse

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. Read the rest

Spider rain wasn't so strange

Smithsonian looked at the recent startling video of a "spider rain" west of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

If Spiderman does whatever a spider can, then ...

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. Read the rest

Sand spider builds a burrow

Watch him dig!

Spider creates "decoy" of self

Phil Torres:
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] Read the rest

Spider delays vote count

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. Read the rest

Ancient spider never gets to finish dinner

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 Read the rest

Watch a spider molt

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!

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Very important public service announcement about spiders (video)

[Video Link]. "A lot of people die. Just so you know."—Dan Lucal. (via Casimir Nozkowski) Read the rest