New on Entomology Today: A new study uncovers a clearer evolutionary tree for a broad group of spiders that previously proved difficult to classify—and illustrates the growing potential to extract useful genetic information from even the smallest of specimens in museum arthropod collections. #entomology #arachnids https://entomologytoday.org/2023/11/30/marronoid-spiders-genomic-sequencing-phylogeny/
Does Portia look more like an ewok or the Lorax? 🤔
Known for their hunting expertise, Portia fimbriata, a.k.a. fringed jumping spiders, are often called the smartest spiders in the world. These tiny #arachnids must be smart and strategic because they eat other species of #spiders, some three times their size, and they even develop specific strategies for hunting different species. 🕷️🐻🧠
#MiteMonday: stopped by Trinity-Bellwoods today and was delighted to find that, despite the frosty ground, there were still red velvet mites (_Allothrombium_) out and about!
Bonus "accidental front camera" selfie. (POV: you're a red velvet mite)
This little jumping buddy lives in my messy desk, and sometimes it goes out to snoop around. Today I notice it kinda slow, and I saw it has a missing leg 😭 poor thing, seems to have problems with climbing. Maybe it's an old spider? I'm not sure how old is it, but I read they lose agility over time 😭
Everyone should start counting spiders
“all over the world, all sorts of #spiders seem to be disappearing, says conservation biologist Pedro Cardoso of the University of Lisbon. He and a colleague polled a hundred spider experts and enthusiasts globally about the threats facing the animals. “It’s more or less unanimous that something is happening,” he says.” #extinction #arachnids #ecology #biology
Welp, does anyone have any recommendations on how to catch a small wolf spider who has recently taken up residence in my bathroom? Normally I let spiders live inside and help out, but I don’t want a temporarily painful and itchy bite (or for Randi the dog or anyone else to get one) and a wolf spider will be ultimately be happier outside anyway.
My preference is catch and release but I have (mostly) accepted that I may need to injure it. Since it is a wolf spider of unknown sex, I cannot just kill it or I risk it dropping an egg sac and/or hundreds of babies.
Additionally, it seems to be on high alert. It is not hiding when I come around like sources tell me it should, instead it watches me. This may be because I corralled it into a cardboard tube to move it out of the tub yesterday pre-bath when I did not yet know what kind of spider it was. (If only I had moved it outside then!!) It has at least moved from yesterday’s post which was terrifyingly next to the toilet and today is standing guard on the wall near the doorway. It switches to pounce position when I walk by but has so far left me alone.
#Arachtober 31: I made it! I really managed to post something every day! It was hard deciding what to close out the month with, but I'm going with one of my favourite arachnid observations this year, a long-legged velvet mite (family Erythraeidae) with a gorgeous iridescent blue-green sheen.
#Arachtober 30: one last Arachtober anystid. Warning: kind of shaky/jerky video, so be careful watching if you (like me) sometimes get vertigo from this kind of thing.
Technical note: this video was originally 1080×1080 px and 56 MB. Resized it to 500×500 with ezgif (https://ezgif.com/resize-video) and it's under 5 MB!
#Arachtober 27: The trunk of a regal yellow tree (linden or something similar?) was busy with mites. I found a tiny cobweb spider feeding on a whirligig mite, and a red velvet mite feeding on prey in another cobweb spider's web!
Everyone should start counting #spiders
Our collective arachnid aversion could be causing us to overlook something even scarier: Spiders may be disappearing.
By Betsy Mason 10.25.2023
"In fact, all over the world, all sorts of spiders seem to be disappearing, says conservation biologist Pedro Cardoso of the University of Lisbon. He and a colleague polled a hundred spider experts and enthusiasts globally about the threats facing the animals. 'It’s more or less unanimous that something is happening,' he says.
"The case for why people should care about spiders is robust. First, the vast majority of spiders do not bite or harm people, despite rampant misinformation in the media that would have you believe most spiders are out to get you. In reality, a vanishingly small number of spiders are dangerous to humans. Instead, they prey on insects — including mosquitoes, cockroaches and aphids — that actually do cause harm to people in their homes, gardens and fields. Spiders are excellent natural pest controls, but they are often killed by pesticides aimed at those same insect pests. These #ToxicChemicals also harm people.
"Spiders are important food sources for birds, fish, lizards and small mammals. And there are untapped benefits we humans could enjoy someday — if spiders don’t disappear first — such as potential pharmaceutical and pest control applications derived from compounds in their venom, and medical and engineering applications based on their incredibly strong silk."
#Arachtober 25: this beautiful _Larinioides_' camouflage was so good that I was prying open a dead Queen Anne's Lace flower to see if there was a spider inside before I realized she was sitting on top of it, eating an aphid!
You can see her markings better in the second pic.
#Arachtober 19: this cute little oribatid (found on a rotting log) seemed to have ladybug-like spots. These widespread and abundant detritus- and fungus-eating soil dwellers are sometimes called "beetle mites" because of their hard carapaces.
For anyone who likes #spiders
Mostly cellar spiders, triangulate cobweb spiders, jumping spiders, and woodlouse hunter spiders.
#Arachtober 13 (it's still the 13th somewhere!): a fast-moving, red running crab spider (family Philodromidae) eating an equally fast-moving, red whirligig mite (family Anystidae)! From back in July, seen on the Park Dr Reservation Trail, southwest of the Evergreen Brick Works.
Possibly _Philodromus rufus_? I've only identified a _Philodromus_ to species like, once.
Jumping spider that was under the cover of the hive when I was checking the feeder this evening. The bold jumping spider, Phidippus audax.
Bad lighting, bad focus, brought you by Pixel. It also didn't like the light and was going back and forth around the corner of the hive.
I scooted it under the lid when I was done. I think it was there the other day when I checked the hive but it probably crawled out and was on the ground where I set the lid/cover/box.
This Synema globosum is sometimes called the Napoleon spider, because of a supposed resemblance of the markings on the abdomen (not visible here) to a silhouette of Napoleon wearing his iconic hat.
It is here on a…
📅 23 June 2020
📸 Fujifilm X-T3 + Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 LM OIS WR Macro
🎞️ ISO 1600, ƒ/8, 1/150s
#Arachtober 10: from back in June, a mesh-web weaver (family Dictynidae) back-combing a line of silk to turn it into a fuzz of nanofibres. Spiders like this have a special sieve-like silk-making organ called a cribellum. This in fact is the ancestral state of most spiders.
Cribellate silk doesn't use glue; rather, it melds with the waxy compounds on some insect exoskeletons. It doesn't stick very well to other surfaces. Later in spider evolution, spiders developed other types of silk that could catch different insects and support more ambitious aerial webs. However, for a minority of spiders, cribellate silk still works just fine.
More details in this 2017 paper: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2017.0363 :OpenAccess:
#Arachtober 8: a hacklemesh weaver (_Amaurobius ferox_) emerges from its lair in a seriously grimy underpass.
This family of spiders is very closely related to the Agelenidae—there are many species that have moved from one to the other and vice versa over the years—but they are (generally?) cribellate, that is, they make a kind of fuzzy silk.
Found a harvestman crawling along some planks at work. Probably the eastern harvestman. (L. vittatum)
For those who don't know, harvestmen may be arachnids, but they're not spiders! They're pretty easily identified by the broad connection between the front and rear body segments, making the body look like just one large segment. They sometimes get mixed up with cellar spiders, which also get called "daddy long legs."
#Arachtober 4: didn't manage to get outside for a walk, but this yellow sac spider dropped by to feed on the midges on the screen window. You can kind of see the two little claws on each foot. I mayyyy be mildly obsessed with spider paws?
Every year labyrinth spiders (ID app suggest they are Agelena labyrithica) set up shop in some evergreen bushes behind the local city hall. Tried to photograph them every yr for the past 3 yrs but found it difficult due to the combo of dark shadows, complex webs, & spiders that will retreat back into their lair if disturbed. Best I got this year👇. Have to try again next year.
In our old apartment, this gorgeous arboreal orb weaver took a residence by one of the kitchen windows, where I had the plant light, and I used to love watching her recycle the silk and weave a new web every dawn. She was very successful for the light. 🕸️🕷️💕✨
The Arachnid Wars of Dreadful Acres continue apace: the cobweb weavers in my laundry room are kickin’ it up a notch. I greatly appreciate their redoubled efforts in keeping out the riff-raff. This bodacious lil buddy has snagged herself a baby scorpion. Careful with that hind end tho, girlfriend!
Get ready for spiders! This is our 17th year celebrating #Arachtober. Join us by sharing your photos of #spiders and other #arachnids. #Arachtober has spread around the web on different platforms, each with its own unique feel. Interacting with arachnologists and scientists on Twitter was so much fun and educational. Hopefully Mastodon is even better.
Banner by zxgirl and I. We wanted to make it new and special. I tried to capture the feeling of one of Conall's scaterscape web refraction shots.
I was moving a plant stake this morning to get a better photo of a bumblebee on a zinnia and this little guy/gal jumped onto the stake and posed for a bit.
“Red-legged golden orb-weaver spider”
Like other spiders in the subfamily Nephilinae, the red-legged golden orb-weaver spider can weave webs so strong that sometimes even birds and bats get caught.
It is a passive and harmless spider but…
📅 4 March 2019
📸 Fujifilm X-T3 + Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
🎞️ ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/125s
I am sad and angry over trees next door being cut down so I had a croissant and took a LOT of bug pics and now I'm going to take a sad nap :blobsad:
- baby zebra jumping spider (_Salticus scenicus_)
- long-legged fly (_Condylostylus_?, family Dolichopodidae) on hostas
- bumblebee (_Bombus_?) on coneflower
- pseudoscorpion (Cthoniidae? Neobisiidae?) :pseudoscorpion:
For all the aspects of summer that I dislike, that disagree with my brain, I will also admit that it's more than just an inescapable, uncomfortable countdown to glorious autumn. For one thing, it's when various #spiders gradually become more evident outside - orb weavers, jumping spiders, crab spiders, grass spiders, funnel weavers - and each day includes the ritual of inspecting flowers around the garden in hopes of spotting #MisumenaVatia, the flower crab spider. Today I found one and she is exquisite.
While I understand how these beauties find their flowers (mostly by scent), the fact that these tiny, elegant, camouflaged spooders manage to locate, climb (or balloon onto), and take up residence inside flowers like so many tiny, eight-legged, predatory Thumbelinas, always feels like magic to me.
How do forested buffers around rivers affect the diet of predators like trout and spiders? In the abundant fall season, both get most of their food from terrestrial sources! I'm not sure exactly what this means because ecology is really hard so read the paper yourself: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352249623000319#s0040 :OpenAccess:
Two new species of eyeless, cave-dwelling pholcids described. One is from Australia's ancient Pilbara, a remnant from before Australia aridified. Another is from lava tubes on Réunion Island. Plus some philosophical questions about what a cave is, really. https://subtbiol.pensoft.net/article/105798/ :OpenAccess:
Speaking of species with multiple male morphs, Dr. Erin Powell has a new paper out on _Forsteropsalis pureora_, a New Zealand opilionid where there are three male morphs. Two have massive chelicerae used to fight each other over mates and the third scrambles around avoiding fights. Powell calls them alpha, beta, and gamma, but I think of them as barbarian, fighter, and rogue.
Opilionids can detach legs as a defence mechanism, and Powell et al. find that juvenile males that lose legs are more likely to develop into gamma males! Read the paper to learn about possible explanations.
Paper: Erin C Powell and others, Juvenile leg autotomy predicts adult male morph in a New Zealand harvestman with weapon polymorphism, Behavioral Ecology, 2023;, arad029, https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arad029 :OpenAccess:
Press release: https://phys.org/news/2023-06-arachnid-versions-male-leg-morphology.html