Archive for the ‘Spiders’ Category

Possible New Spider Makes DIY Decoy Version of Itself!

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Spiders are a little creepy to most people, right?

Well that other percent that didn’t think they were creepy? You can come join the rest of us now.

You’re walking through the woods and notice an interesting looking spider in the middle of its web from a distance. You decide to go in for a closer look. You make that ‘quizzical dog face’ because it’s a pretty weird-looking spider.

As you get closer, something seems a little ‘off’ about the ‘interesting’ spider…which begins to throb and shake in the most un-spider-like movement you’ve ever seen.

That’s about the time when your fear meter begins to spike as you realize the ‘spider’ you’ve been staring at is actually comprised of dead insects, debris and leaves and is being puppeteered by the real spider hiding just out of sight.

The ‘decoy spider’ is being looked at to see whether or not it’s a new species of spider or, in a step leading to total nightmare material, if it’s an already known spider that’s taught itself this behavior.

While scientists continue to determine what’s going on with this horrifying development in the spider kingdom, we’ll just keep hoping that human flesh is completely unpleasant to their terrifying little tastebuds.

[PeruNature.Com]

Southern California Infested with Brown Widows!

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Since face-eating and bath-salting have finally jumped the shark, a new trend is beginning to emerge…

Only days ago we reported that the base of Mount St. Helens in Washington is swarming with tent caterpillars.

Insects are now climbing the list of things signaling the apocalypse might actually arrive just in time for Christmas.

The LA Times is reporting that the brown widow spider, not to be outdone by the caterpillars in Washington, have had a recent population explosion that guarantees people living in Southern California will be dealing with the less-poisonous cousin to the black widow on a more frequent basis.

Black widows generally hide in darker places like sheds, woodpiles and under porches. Usually they’re tucked away in places people instinctively don’t go. You can already guess where the next piece of information is going…the brown widow is much more extroverted than its deadlier relative.

Brown widows like to relax in peoples’ things outside. Outdoor patio furniture, plastic playground equipment, under the curled lip of a potted plant, your bbq, your ‘outside shoes’ and in drought-free landscaping. Fortunately out of 72 data sites used to get a better understanding of how big this population explosion is, none of the spiders were found in peoples’ homes.

Since 2003, when the brown widow first began appearing in California, the population has exploded compared to the black widows.

Bright-side? Brown widow spider bites generally hurt initially, burn for a little while and then? Really nothing happens. Carry on.

Down-side? These things like to cluster. Turning over a patio chair you’re sitting in to interrupt a small party of these spiders that dwarf their darker cousins in size? Nature’s way of going “Boo!” and making you paranoid about every nook and crannie in your immediate area.

[LA Times]

Grafted Spider Skin Makes You Bulletproof

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

In yet another attempt to to bridge the gap between art and science, Geert Verbeke plans to graft a synthetic blend of spider silk and human skin into his arm as the latest piece in his art collection.  The artificial skin graft will be grown by a team made up of Dutch artist Jalila Essaidi and cell biologist Abdoewaheb El Ghalbzouri. So far the hybrid skin has been able to stop a rifle bullet that has been fired at half its normal speed.

“It connects nature, science and art. If I put the art that Jalila has made on my arm, then I will always have it with me,” said Verbeke, who has a particular interest in marrying arts and life sciences.

However, such grafted skin is still far from being truly bulletproof.

El Ghalbzouri said that spider silk is three times stronger than Kevlar, which is used in bulletproof vests worn by the military and others in conflict zones. Since bulletproof vests are made from 33 layers of Kevlar, using more layers of spider silk could prove more effective in stopping a bullet, he said.

These hybrid grafts could potentially help burn patients as the silk enables scientists to make larger grafts. Other studies have shown that silk placed in burn wounds encourages healing and minimizes scarring.  The question that remains is “does spider silk possess these same characteristics?”  If that isn’t enough, El Ghalbzouri doesn’t  just want to stop at skin either.  He said that these is potential for spider silk to be a good basis on which to build  bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

[Reuters]

3D Imagery Of 49 Million-Year-Old Spider

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Check out these awesome 3D images of a 49 million-year-old huntsman spider that was trapped and preserved in amber.

[The Epoch Times]

Spider Infested Trees Reducing Malaria

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

that is a lot of spiders

Remember the floods that devastated Pakistan last year? Well all of that flood water drove spiders into trees by the millions where they took over and created giant spider condos, which is pretty much one of the last things I ever want to walk under. I am not sure how concentrating millions of spiders into one location helps lower the population of the highly mobile mosquitoes, but that is what is being reported. Maybe it is teamwork.

Although slowly killing the trees, the phenomenon is seemingly helping the local population. People in Sindh have reported fewer mosquitos than they would have expected given the amount of stagnant water in the area. It is thought the mosquitoes are getting caught in the spiders’ webs, reducing their numbers and the associated risk of malaria.

[NewScientist]

Assassin Bug Uses Aggressive Mimicry To Catch Spiders

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

A species of assassin bug, Stenolemus bituberus, sneaks onto spiders’ webs and pretends to be prey, then captures and eats the spider when it comes to investigate. It was noted that on occasion the ploy of the assassin bug failed and it ended up being a meal for the spider regardless.

“The assassin bug slowly approaches the spider on its web, using its forelegs to pluck the silk threads in a manner that simulates the vibrations of a fly struggling after being caught. Wignall studied the behavior of the bugs, and found that the response of the spider to the predator was the same as its response to when a vinegar fly or aphid was caught in the web.”

[Wired]

South Korean Spiders Invade Guam

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

A ship from South Korea was refused port when thousands of large spiders were discovered throughout the ship’s cargo.

The local Department of Agriculture deemed the arachnids “too numerous to destroy or contain.” Officials  are unsure of why the spiders are on board, or even what species they are.

Considering the cargo was meant to build housing for U.S. military contractors it’s safe to say that “War On Ugly-Wugly Creepy Crawlies” is imminent.

[Stars and Stripes]