British spiders, new free app


This video says about itself:

Spider in da House

12 August 2013

Trailer video for our house spider survey app ‘Spider in da House’ – identify your 8-legged house mates and let us know you have seen one: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

New free app helps you learn about spiders

If you are curious about finding out more about the spiders you share your house with, you’ll probably be interested in Spider in da House; a new app available from Android and Apple app stores that helps people to identify 12 of the most common spiders found in our homes, using identification tools, photos, and facts.

Autumn is the best time to get to know spiders, as males venture indoors to hunt for a mate. Until autumn, both males and females remain in their webs, commonly in sheds, garages, and wood piles. Males then become nomadic in order to seek out females, when we often encounter them in our homes. Females will generally stay in their webs to await a suitor.

The app was built in collaboration between Society of Biology and University of Gloucestershire, with the goal of helping the public learn more about spiders.

Professor Adam Hart from the University of Gloucestershire explains: “By eating flies and other insects, spiders are not only providing us with a pest control service, but are important in ecosystems. They often feed on the most common species, preventing a few species from becoming dominant. We want to encourage people to respect and learn more about their little house guests.”

There are around 660 species of spider in the UK, and according to preliminary results of Society of Biology’s House Spider Survey, people struggle to tell the difference between them, which has prompted the creation of the app.

Dutch national spider count week


This vide is called National Geographic Super Spider – Fascinating Spider Documentary.

Translated from Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands:

In our country, there are hundreds of spider species. But which species live in our gardens or even our homes? Vroege Vogels VARA radio program organizes from Sunday, September a 14th National home and garden spider count. A week long anyone can look for all eight-legged animals in the Netherlands. Sunday, September 21 presenters make Menno Bentveld and Janine Abbring will announce the results.

24 spiders

Along with Jinze Noordijk of EIS Insects Knowledge Center, spiders expert Peter Koomen of the Nature Museum Fryslân, and Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Vroege Vogels has made a Spider Inquiry Card, containing 24 spiders which you may find in your home or garden.

Spider feeding, video


This is a video about an European garden spider feeding.

J.J. Talsma in the Netherlands made the video.

Sydney spiders bigger than Australian outback spiders


This video from the USA says about itself:

6 June 2011

Get a behind-the-scenes look at this history and creation of this dazzling textile—the only one of its kind in the world—made from the strands of silk from over one million of Madagascar’s golden orb spiders. On view at the Art Institute of Chicago through October 2011.

From Wired magazine:

Cities Are Making Spiders Grow Bigger and Multiply Faster

By Nick Stockton

08.20.14, 2:00 pm

Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.

A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.

The study’s authors collected 222 of the creatures from parks and bushland throughout Sydney, and correlated their sizes to features of the built and natural landscape. …

To measure urbanization, the authors looked primarily at ground cover throughout the city, at several scales, where they collected each spider: Are surfaces mostly paved? Is there a lack of natural vegetation? Lawns as opposed to leaf litter?

“The landscape characteristics most associated with larger size of spiders were hard surfaces (concrete, roads etc) and lack of vegetation,” said Elizabeth Lowe, a Ph.D student studying arachnids at the University of Sydney.

Humped golden orb weavers are a common arachnid along Australia’s east coast. They get their name from their large, bulging thorax, and the gold silk they use to spin their spherical webs. They typically spend their lives in one place, constantly fixing the same web (which can be a meter in diameter). Each web is dominated by a single female, though 4 or 5 much smaller males usually hang around the edges of the web, waiting for an opportunity to mate (only occasionally does the female eat them afterwards).

Paved surfaces and lack of vegetation mean cities are typically warmer than the surrounding countryside. Orb weavers are adapted to warm weather, and tend to grow bigger in hotter temperatures. The correlation between size and urban-ness manifested at every scale. Citywide, larger spiders were found closer to the central business district. And, their immediate surroundings were more likely to be heavily paved and less shady.

More food also leads to bigger spiders, and the scientists believe that human activity attracts a smorgasbord of orb weavers’ favorite prey. Although the study wasn’t designed to determine exactly how the spiders were getting bigger, the researchers speculate that things like street lights, garbage, and fragmented clumps of plant life might attract insects. They also believe that the heat island effect might let urban spiders mate earlier in the year, and might even give them time to hatch multiple broods.

The orb weavers could also be keeping more of what they catch. Because they are such prolific hunters, orb weavers’ webs are usually home to several other species of spiders that steal food. The researchers found that these little kleptos were less common in webs surrounded by pavement and little vegetation.

Lowe says quite a few species of spider are successful in urban areas, and she wouldn’t be surprised if some of these other species were also getting bigger. Despite how terrifying this sounds, she assures me that this is actually a good thing. “They control fly and pest species populations and are food for birds,” she said.

Rare spider back in the Netherlands after 124 years


This video is about a Piratula knorri spider.

Naturalists in the Netherlands report that a spider species, last seen in the Netherlands in 1890, was seen again on 29 May 2014 in Limburg province.

This species is called Piratula knorri.

Kingfisher cleans its feathers, video


This video is about a male kingfisher in the Netherlands on 25 May 2014.

It got covered in spider silk; so, it had to clean its feathers.

René Vos made the video.

Violin strings from spider silk


This is a video, in German, about the new violin strings made from spiders‘ silk.

From the Strad:

Japanese scientist creates violin strings from spider silk

Monday, 05 March 2012

A researcher in Japan has succeeded in using silk from hundreds of spiders to make a set of violin strings. Shigeyoshi Osaki, a professor at Nara Medical University in southern Honshu, used between 3,000 and 5,000 strands of silk for each string, which produced ‘a soft and profound timbre’ when played.

According to BBC News, Osaki bred 300 female Nephila maculata spiders to make the strands, all of which are used by the arachnids to hang from, rather than to make webs. Each string is formed by twisting the silk strands in one uniform direction.

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