DailyDirt: Friendly Neighborhood Spiders?
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Arachnophobia isn’t just a condition suffered by Little Miss Muffet. But despite the widespread fear (or elevated concern) related to spiders, there are still some interesting things to know about our 8-legged frenemies. Here are just some examples.
- If you’ve ever wondered what kind of spider bit Spiderman so that webs could squirt out of his wrists, there may be an actual answer now. It’s possible that tarantulas can spin from their limbs in order to stick to tricky surfaces. [url]
- The bite from the Brazilian wandering spider can cause four hour erections — leading to the development of another kind of drug treatment for erectile dysfunction. A peptide called PnTx2-6 was isolated from the spider venom, and it made some lab rats happier for a while. [url]
- Flooding in Pakistan has caused some spiders to take to the trees — creating a LOT of spiderweb-filled foliage. The unexpected benefit seems to be that, despite the plentiful amount of standing water, the mosquito population has been pretty effectively reduced by the ubiquitous spiderwebs. [url]
- To discover more interesting biological curiosities, check out what’s currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.
Filed Under: arachnophobia, mosquito, spiderman, spiders
Comments on “DailyDirt: Friendly Neighborhood Spiders?”
A link to a Daily Mail “science” article? They’re practically the Weekly World News of the UK.
okay.. here’s a link to the original research paper, then:
Nitric Oxide-Induced Vasorelaxation in Response to PnTx2-6 Toxin from Phoneutria nigriventer Spider in Rat Cavernosal Tissue
We now know the reason for the high rate of infidelity in Brazil.
Spiders vs Mantises
Every now and then one or the other of these garden predators gets into the house. I figure they?re on my side (they eat the bugs that eat the plants), so I try to evict them rather than kill them.
Mantises, it seems, are completely and utterly fearless. Either that, or they have no sense of self-preservation at all. I can happily coax them onto a fly-swatter, say, and then carry that outside and give it a flick. Whereupon they fall off, take flight, and wing their way right back to my front door. *Sigh* …
The little jumping spiders, on the other hand, are canny, suspicious buggers. I coax them onto something (my hand, or the abovementioned fly-swatter), but as soon as it moves, they?re off again. So the only real way to catch them is in my spider-eviction jam-jar. There?s no escaping from that until I empty it outside. Mwahaha!
Re: Control With Light
Well, I’ve found that you can manipulate insects by interfering with the light that falls on them. For example, I was able to “herd” a mantis on the sidewalk by placing my hand so the boundary of the shadow was exactly over his body. He stepped out into the light, and repeated the process, until he was in the grass beside the sidewalk.
I’ve also found that if you hold a flashlight against the base of your jam jar, so as to illuminate it from within, it distracts the normal tendency of flying insects to take wing. Their instinct is to get out from under a shadow, you see, and if you make the area under the jam jar much brighter than the surroundings…
By the way, I vote for Scutigera Coleoptrata, those big centipedes with long legs. Getting on twenty years ago, I was living in an apartment in inner-city Philadelphia. The fabric of the building was rotting away, and there was a limit to how much I could seal it up. Well, we had scutigera, and I decided to let them keep the other bugs down, rather than squirting possibly poisonous chemicals around. The scutigers would sit on the wall, not moving, until something passed in front of them, then they would zoom forward and catch it. The only time I saw a cockroach was when the scutigers left me a dead one, the way a cat gives you dead mice.
Eight (or twenty) legs good, six legs bad!
Re: Re: Scutigera Coleoptrata
Man, that?s one hell of a way to keep the roaches down.
Re: Re: Re: Scutigera Coleoptrata
Well, the trophies the cats brought home did not bear close examination. One time a cat left a dead squirrel in the mail slot. As Konrad Lorenz said, in _Man Meets Dog_: “I feel sorry for the vole, but I did not know it personally, and [the dog] is a friend, whose triumphs I feel bound to share.” So think of the scutigers as housemousers on a smaller scale.
Here’s a funny story. Back when I was in high school, a matter of thirty-five years ago, I was taking biology in the tenth grade. There was an aquarium club to go with it, so we could get hands-on experience. One boy kept piranhas, and they promptly killed themselves, furiously attacking their own reflections in the glass tank-side. One girl tried to keep chameleon lizards, but they refused to eat what was readily available, and staved to death, insisting on live flies or nothing. Anyway, the girl who owned the chameleons was out of class, sick, and I got tapped for burial detail. A dead chameleon doesn’t look particularly attractive, so I made a quick job of it, and didn’t dig deep enough. About a week later, the biology teacher’s wistful-eyed little terrier found the chameleons, and _retrieved_ them.
Re: Re: Re:2 chameleons?live flies or nothing
Maybe their eyes were incapable of seeing the prey unless it was moving.
I?m pretty sure this is true of frogs: they simply won?t see a dead insect in front of them, only a flying one.
Re: Re: Control With Light
Well now I know what those bugs my cats keep trying to eat are.