Tarantulas, mating season and Halloween


This video says about itself:

31 October 2013

The world’s largest spider, the Goliath tarantula is also a venomous killer that liquefies its prey. Gustavo Hormiga, a biology professor at George Washington University, explains the arachnid’s ferocious hunting strategy—and why there’s no need to fear it unless you’re the size of a mouse.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Tarantulas Are Out At Halloween, But They’re Not Trick or Treating!

Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014 by eNature

Tarantulas are a group of often hairy and very large arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders, of which approximately 900 species have been found on 6 continents.

Halloween is almost here and lots of folks are thinking about spiders such as tarantulas—as well as bats, ghouls and other scary creatures.

But it turns out that tarantulas have a lot more on their mind this month than trick or treating.

It’s mating time for tarantulas.

And the story behind tarantula breeding season is a tale of long journeys, deadly peril, violence and love. It’s an epic worthy of Homer.

Mating Season Is Here

Fall is the time of year when male tarantulas, having finally reached adulthood, come out of the burrows in which they have lived for the first 5 to 12 years of their lives.

Their mission? To seek out females and mate with them. A host of perils awaits the newly emerged male in the outside world, not the least of which is the female herself.

The Women Are In Charge

Female tarantulas are doing what they usually do on warm evenings: sitting in their burrows near the surface, waiting to feel the vibrations of passersby. If the vibrations feel as if they might come from a small animal such as a cricket or another spider, she will rush out, grab the unsuspecting prey item and sink her fangs into it.

Clearly, approaching a female’s burrow is not a task for the faint at heart!

As a male tarantula approaches the burrow of a female, he first tastes the silk that lies around the entrance. If he detects a mature female in residence, he responds by drumming on the surface with his legs and his pedipalps (the leg-like first set of appendages, which are very long on tarantulas). The reason for this drumming is to let the female know that he is interested in mating—and would rather not be mistaken for a meal by the larger and always hungry female.

When and if a female emerges, he continues to drum as he approaches her. If she’s receptive, she will raise up the front end of her body and allow him to grab her fangs with the hook-like projections on his forelegs. He then transfers his sperm to her with his pedipalps.

That was the easy part—the difficult task still lies ahead: he must release her fangs, disengage himself, and make a hasty retreat before she can overpower him and eat him. Even if he successfully escapes from his big date, the male tarantula is still not long for this world. Adult males (mated or not) usually die before winter arrives.

It’s Not Easy Being A Male Tarantula

As if being eaten by your mate isn’t enough to worry about, the male tarantula must also be on the alert for predators like owls, skunks, and foxes.

If he detects the approach of a hungry hunter, his most effective defense is to quickly use his hind legs to kick some of the hairs off of his abdomen. The hairs dislodge easily and are light enough to float into contact with the nose and eyes of the approaching predator. On contact the hairs produce a burning sensation.

This line of defense works well against mammals and birds, but there is another tarantula hunter out there that is an even greater threat, and it is considerably smaller than the spider: it is a wasp called the Tarantula Hawk.

A Wasp That Loves The Taste Of Fresh Tarantula

Tarantula Hawks are among the largest wasps in the world; one North American species exceeds two inches in length. They are handsome insects with metallic blue bodies and orange wings, sometimes seen sipping nectar at flowers (particularly milkweeds) in the early evening hours. Female Tarantula Hawks patrol low over open country, searching for wandering male tarantulas or for the burrows of females.

When the wasp finds a tarantula, she lands and approaches the spider directly. The spider assumes a defensive posture, raising the front legs and baring the lethal-looking fangs. Unfortunately for the spider, this posture also exposes its underside to the agile wasp, which quickly darts under the spider and stings it in a soft spot where the legs join the body.

The sting of the Tarantula Hawk contains a peculiar potion; it paralyzes the spider almost instantly, but does not kill it. The “sleeping” spider is then dragged to a burrow, pulled underground, and buried with a single wasp egg attached to the outside of the body. When the egg hatches, the maggot-like wasp larva has a huge fresh meal waiting for it. The spider is still alive, its tissues undecayed and ready for the wasp larva to devour. The voracious larva will even eat the muscles and other “nonessential” tissue before consuming the still-functioning organs.

So if you are out for a walk or a drive on an early autumn evening and you happen to see a giant hairy spider making his way over the ground, don’t react with fear.

Just wish him the best of luck. With all the perils ahead of him, he’s going to need it!

Ever encounter a tarantula in the wild? Or anywhere else?

We always enjoy hearing your stories!

USA: HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR KIDS: SEXISM AT A YOUNG AGE “We quickly located a firefighter costume for boys, complete with a bright red jacket, a traditional helmet and an axe. The girls’ version, on the other hand, is a skin-tight, short, shiny dress that’s surely flammable. It includes a fascinator (in lieu of a helmet) never before seen on a real firefighter.” [HuffPost]

Wasp catches moth, spider catches wasp video


You have to look closely at this video, as everything happens quickly. A wasp catches a moth. Then, a spider catches the wasp.

The video is by D.M. Lodder from the Netherlands.

Wasp buries spider alive, video


This video is about a female wasp, an Anoplius viaticus. She has paralyzed a spider, in order to lay her eggs inside its body. But first, the spider has to fit into a hole in the ground.

Peter Tjeertes from the Netherlands made this video.

Dutch spiders Top Ten


This video is called 25 Adorable Spiders That Are Not As Scary As You Think.

Last week, thousands of people in the Netherlands counted spiders in their homes and gardens.

The Top Ten of spider species were:

1 European garden spider (4814)

2 Cellar spider (615)

3 Linyphia triangularis (521)

4 Philodromus aureolus (498)

5 Tetragnatha extensa (456)

6 Spotted wolf spider (426)

7 Dust spider (277)

8 Metellina segmentata (245)

9 Neriene montana (235)

10 Silver-sided sector spider (234)

Spiders and birds: here.

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.