Penang Hill BioBlitz Argonaut Update — Tabitha Jones

Teacher Argonaut Tabitha Jones is from Pennsboro, West Virginia and teaches in Doddridge County Schools. She shared her journal entry from the second week of the Penang Hill BioBlitz in which she recounts her change in attitude about spiders after working with Dr. Lauren Esposito, an arachnologist from California Academy of Sciences.

Teacher Argonaut Tabitha Jones

Wow what an experience! As long as I’ve remembered I have been totally and utterly repulsed by spiders. Never in my life did I think it was possible for someone to make me think spiders were anything but disgusting creatures from which to flee. Dr. Lauren Esposito did exactly that.

Lauren is a spider expert. Jude told me that before we finished working with her I would change my mind about spiders, and boy, was she right!

Dr. Lauren Esposito on the trail

The Argonauts and students from WWF Hong Kong went on a hike with Lauren in search for spiders. Although this was something I never something I thought I’d say, we definitely had some interesting finds! We found something called a trap door spider. We found out it is actually a part of the tarantula family. They make a tunnel that is lined with a silk web. They then make a door out of silk to cover their lair.

The trap door spider’s lair, with the door closed (left) and open (right)

You can see in the picture that it also creates trip lines on the outside so when an insect goes across it, the spider knows it’s time to attack its prey.

Lauren told us that she has seen many of these before but never seen one that big. It is hard to tell in the picture but the door is about the size of your palm. She said the spider was probably 20 years old!

Tabitha examines a spider in a vial

Although I am still not a spider lover per say, I am pretty amazed with what they can do. To think that a spider could design something so intricate is absolutely phenomenal!