These sneaky spiders wait inside tiny towers to attack their prey

The California turret spider build tiny towers on the forest floor that extend underground into a burrow. At night, they climb up into the tower and await their dinner -- beetles, moths, and other insects. Video above. From KQED's Deep Look:

While remaining hidden inside their turret, they’re able to sense the vibrations created by their prey’s footsteps.

That’s when the turret spider strikes, busting out of the hollow tower like an eight legged jack-in-the-box. With lightning speed the spider swings its fangs down like daggers, injecting venom into its prey before dragging it down into the burrow.

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Enjoy a tarantula burger in Durham, North Carolina

When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates liked yanking the legs off Daddy longlegs spiders and popping the body into his mouth. He would likely enjoy the tarantula-topped cheesburger available on a limited basis at Durham, North Carolina's Bull City Burger and Brewery. Apparently the arachnid adds a pleasant crunch to the burger. Proprietor Seth Gross (yes, that's his last name), says his restaurants exotic meat offerings have "always been about diversity and teaching people about different types of cuisines and maybe other diets around the world." From Fox13:

Normally in the U.S. people keep spiders as a pets, but overseas, they are hunted and eaten. The creatures can be found in the forests of Cambodia and adult males can grow up to six inches - or the size of a human hand.

"There's something thrilling about eating your fear. So a lot of folks who are afraid of spiders, this is like the big one," Gross said.

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The world's oldest known spider has died

This female trapdoor spider, named Number 16, was the world's oldest known spider. A lifelong resident of the Australian outback, she has just died at age 43. From Curtin University:

The research, published in the Pacific Conservation Biology Journal, suggests the 43-year-old Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch, who recently died during a long-term population study, had outlived the previous world record holder, a 28-year old tarantula found in Mexico.

Lead author PhD student Leanda Mason from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University said the ongoing research has led to new discoveries about the longevity of the trapdoor spider.

“To our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behaviour and population dynamics,” Ms Mason said.

“The research project was first initiated by Barbara York Main in 1974, who monitored the long-term spider population for over 42 years in the Central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

“Through Barbara’s detailed research, we were able to determine that the extensive life span of the trapdoor spider is due to their life-history traits, including how they live in uncleared, native bushland, their sedentary nature and low metabolisms.”

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Why you can't flick a tick

Why can't you flick a tick off you or your pet's skin? The answer is in the tick's mouth that's covered with hooks evolved so the tick can hang on for a several day feast of delicious blood. From KQED's Deep Look:

...A tick digs in using two sets of hooks. Each set looks like a hand with three hooked fingers. The hooks dig in and wriggle into the skin. Then these “hands” bend in unison to perform approximately half-a-dozen breaststrokes that pull skin out of the way so the tick can push in a long stubby part called the hypostome.

“It’s almost like swimming into the skin,” said Dania Richter, a biologist at the Technische Universität Braunschweig in Germany, who has studied the mechanism closely. “By bending the hooks it’s engaging the skin. It’s pulling the skin when it retracts.”

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Daddy longlegs drop their limbs to escape predators

In elementary school, I knew a boy who would impress us by pulling the legs off a daddy longlegs and popping the body in his mouth. I think he would appreciate this Deep Look video about how daddy longlegs can drop up to three of its limbs when threatened by a predator and still survive.

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More people are smoking dead scorpions to get high in Pakistan

Pakistan's daily news service Dawn reports on the rise in scorpion smoking there: Read the rest

Motherfucking tarantula on a motherfucking plane

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

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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