Art & Social Media
- Jen Cross captured an amazing moment: a mud dauber hovering right behind a Micrathena orbweaver. What happened next? “She came up, checked out the spider, then landed nearby and looked like she was doing some maintenance.”
- Nicolette Josling provides a glimpse into the stone nest of a Nemoscolus orbweaver.
- A cool time-lapse of Portuguese street artist ODEITH painting a mural of a giant spider atop a crashed car.
- Spider balloon art! Extra points for identifying the spiders.
- Via Reddit, a curious case of an orbweaver anchoring its web with a hanging pebble. Though there are some spiders that are known to lift up rocks with their silk, this isn’t one of them. The rock was probably on the ground, then got lifted up by the tense web. (It will probably take video footage to settle the matter.)
Education & Outreach
- A year after the story of the world’s longest-lived spider went viral, Leanda Mason talks about getting people interested in science, working with Barbara York Main — and what’s next for №16’s descendants.
- Damian Elias has a story about peacock spiders in the newest edition of Wildlife Australia.
- The UK’s Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust profiles the flower crab spider Misumena vatia for its Species of the Month feature.
- For The Conversation, Matt Bertone explains why you shouldn’t kill your house spiders.
- A conspiracy theory that links the prevalence of Lyme disease to ticks as US military bioweapons has gained mainstream political currency. At /r/AskHistorians, /u/BBlasdel explains the truth behind ticks as biological weapons, and what “chronic Lyme” and alternative medicine have to do with medical misogyny.
- A theory about the purpose of orbweavers’ stabilimenta (web decorations) has inspired a design for bird-friendly glass.
- For a recent Parasite of the Day post, Tommy Leung describes how the seal nasal mite Halarachne halichoeri got its groove back.
- Metal nature fact: “Ticks use their saliva to create a ‘lake of blood’ inside their hosts.”
- The story of the “Texas Mystery Spider” that turned out to belong to a whole new family, Myrmecicultoridae. (See also Sebastian Alejandro Echeverri’s livetweet of Horner’s talk at the recent International Congress of Arachnology.)
- Tricia Rubi is on BBC Newsday talking about her recent paper, about how male wolf spiders can hide from predators while showing off for females. (It’s just like in Jurassic Park, their vision is based on motion.)
- The Guardian has an article on the five new recently described Jotus species, including the striking black-and-white Jotus karllagerfeldi.
Research & Observations
Ecology & Inter-Species Interactions
- Pseudoscorpions are known to hitch rides on bugs, a behaviour called phoresy. This is the first case of a pseudoscorpion found on an endangered Alpine longhorn beetle [PDF]! (And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t harm the beetle.)
- Over 100 years ago, the naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre noted that he had never seen a spider attacking a preying mantis in the wild, and tossed a mantis into a spider’s web to see what would happen. Kobe University researchers repeat the experiment.
- Check it out: a Peruvian fishing spider eating a tadpole! [PDF]
- The cobweb spider Phylloneta sisyphia spawn camps the caterpillars of the endangered marsh fritillary butterfly [PDF]. However, it also eats flies that parasitize the caterpillars.
- An interesting look at how reindeer grazing affects populations of ground-dwelling spiders!
- Okay, so araneomorph spiders (“true spiders”, as opposed to the more “primitive” mygalomorphs like tarantulas and trapdoor spiders) are basically divided into two groups based on females’ internal genitalia, the simpler haplogyne and the more complex entelegyne. (It’s kind of hard to explain; see the above picture.) When these researchers compared the anatomy of over 100 species, they realized that in entelegyne spiders, eggs must be fertilized in a different place than we thought. This raises a lot of questions about how entelegyny evolved!
- The flower crab spider Misumena vatia has the ability to gradually change colour between yellow and white. But it’s surprisingly hard to find photos of this actually happening, so Tone Killick documented an experiment. Bonus: he’s also got a rare photo of a Steatoda grossa stealing and eating another spider’s egg sac.
- This analysis of scorpion claws from a material engineering perspective fills a gap in the arthropod literature.
- The European cave spider (Meta menardi) lives both in caves and above ground throughout its life. Here’s a look at the particular adaptations it has for this intermediate lifestyle.
- You know how turtles in cartoons can hide completely inside their shells? Yeah, arachnids can do that too. Some ptychoid mites can sustain about 560,000 times their own weight before breaking. Clearly, ve must deal with it.
- The Darwin’s bark spider (Caerostris darwini) from Madagascar makes the strongest, stretchiest dragline silk of all; the bridge lines of their webs can be up to 25m long! These researchers examined the spider’s RNA and physiology for clues about how they produce this unique silk — among the toughest biological materials on earth.
- The “small, lumpy-shaped” Japanese spider Phoroncidia altiventris [PDF] (their words, not mine) has been known to science for over thirty years, but researchers have only just now found its web! Its unusual form suggests that P. altiventris has perhaps been put in the wrong family.
- Okay, this is kind of genius: these researchers in Pakistan found that a coating of dissolved spider silk keeps fruit fresh longer. It’s also cheaper and uses less toxic chemicals than silkworm silk, which has already been tried. (Oh, and the spider silk was from Argiope trifasciata, in case you were wondering.)
- There’s a new book out about invertebrate animal welfare, and it has a chapter on spiders. Other chapters also offer relevant discussion, like how to tell if invertebrates feel pain.
- Spiders are typically loners. But a few outliers, like the cobweb spider Anelosimus, exhibit social behaviour — sharing webs and food. How did this unique lifestyle evolve? In a highly readable undergrad thesis, Adelaide Cotter uses phylogenetic analysis to rule out one major hypothesis.
- Male wolf spiders who previously lost fights against rivals have a motivation to fight better when they’re defending a female they’ve mated with.
- This study of pomegranate orchards throughout Israel found that in agricultural landscapes, having more an even diversity of different habitat types seems to increase the diversity of spiders that can live there.
- A new species of the dwarf spider Epiceraticelus in the southeastern United States.
- Five new Anicius jumping spiders from Mexico.
- A new Megachactops scorpion has been found in Colombia [PDF], the first of that genus to be found occurring outside Venezuela.
- Two striking new jumping spiders from Argentina.
- Four new Actinopus trapdoor spiders from Uruguay.
- Unravelling the relationships of the tiny, all very similar-looking Abacarus sugarcane mites in Brazil has turned up a new species, Abacarus neosacchari.
- A new species of Cryptachaea cobweb spider has been found in caves in Brazil.
- A new species of solifuge (“camel spider”), Gylippus erseni, has been discovered on the verdant slopes of Mount Karadağ, an extinct volcano in southern Turkey.
- Two new pseudoscorpions from the forests of the Caucasus: Neobisium kovalevskayae [PDF] and Ephippiochthonius caucasicus [PDF].
- New jumping spiders in India: Epeus triangulopalpis, Piranthus planolancis, and Pancorius nagaland.
- A wonderfully strange new species of theridiid spider was found in India [PDF]. Meotipa ultapani lives on the underside of leaves, and builds retreats out of random debris that camofluage the spider itself.
- Two new Tapinocyba mesh-web weavers were found living over 4100m above sea level in the Nepalese Himalayas. (If the site is down, try this HTML version.)
- Four new Lineacoelotes funnel weavers from China.
- A new linyphiid genus in China, Zhezhoulinyphia, and two new species in Herbiphantes and Labullinyphia.
- Four new psilodercid spiders found throughout southeast Asia.
- A new spitting spider, the first Stedocys in Japan [PDF].
- A new peacock jumping spider [PDF] from Queensland, Australia!
- Homeomma uruguayense has been found in central Argentina, much further west than previously known populations.
- The jumping spiders Irura yueluensis and Synageles hilarulus [PDF] have been found in Japan for the first time.
- Neoscona byzanthina spotted in the Iberian peninsula for the first time since the seventh century (li’l history deep cut for you folks).
- Different people inadvertently “discovering” the same species is not just a relic of the Bone Wars. In 2018, the same little red-and-black Chilean tarantula, popular in the pet trade for its friendly personality and pretty colours, was described both as Homeomma chilensis and Homeomma bicolor. While 19th-century men of science might have wanted to settle this with pistols at dawn, we now have a simple rule: the older name takes precedence. H. bicolor is dead, long live H. chilensis!
- Likewise, re-examining specimens proved that Anepsion japonicum was really Anepsion maritatum all along [PDF].
- The mite order Mesostigmata contains around 11,000 species in 100 families, including the bee mite Varroa destructor, the aforementioned seal nasal mite Halarachne halichoeri, and phytoseiid mites, used widely as biological pest control. Using their mitochondrial genome has helped organize the phylogeny.
- Indian Castianeira have been condensed somewhat.
- Scientists have gone back and looked at some Gnaphosid spiders first collected from Himalaya, Pamir, and Xinjiang in 1885 [PDF]. As expected from over a hundred years of improving how we study spiders, re-examining those original specimens has updated a lot of the original species classifications.
- A survey of the scorpions of Tiaret, Algeria [PDF].
- A key to the Roncus pseudoscorpions of the Middle East and Caucasus [PDF].
- By absorbing the genuses Yumates and Lucetia, the Cinetomorpha genus of goblin spiders now has 41 species!