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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

For My Fellow Arachnonerds

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

For My Fellow Arachnonerds

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Yesterday, while writing a completely unrelated article on lab safety lesson plans for DS, I stumbled across a video of jumping spiders fighting. While on my break between "Graphic Design Schools in Michigan" and "Graphic Design Schools in Ohio," I thought I'd share it with my fellow arachnonerds.




And here is an article on jumping spider fighting and how fights between males differ from fights between females. Basically, males tend to concede easily and their fights involve a lot of posturing. Females tend to fight to the death--or at least severe injury. Why? Because females have an interest in protecting their nests, which they need when they molt.

Once upon a time, after a damaging incident with a wolf spider at Girl Scout camp, I was an arachnophobic. I couldn't even look at photographs of spiders in my field guides without getting all creepy feeling. When we lived in Ellicott City, I happened upon a book on spiders in the library one day. Without pictures. It looked interesting, so I checked it out. It was interesting (and I really need to find it again so that I can get a copy for myself). Ever since then, I've found myself liking spiders more and more. Never mind that our house is full of spiders. They're cheaper and safer than Raid. ;)

This spring, I had a jumping spider in my study. They have highly developed vision (this I learned from writing the article "Common Michigan Spiders That Don't Build Webs" for DS) and watch the people in their world as much as the people tend to watch them. "My" jumping spider would creep out from under the desk or inside the printer and watch me for hours on end. If I moved too abruptly, he would sink back down, but I could still see little eyes peeping over, watching me. One day, though, I came into the study and found him curled up on the floor. He had recently died; his legs weren't even stiff yet. I buried him in the garden beneath the sage, my favorite herb (which was also in bloom at the time and gorgeous).

Okay--back to work!
  • OMG spiders! D: Well you know (I think) that every creature with more than 4 legs scare the hell out of me. ;) But I watched the video, because as long as it's on the screen it can't hurt me (like we all know it will - they are just waiting to jump on me and strangle me), and the difference between male and female fighting was just so clear, even before I read your explanation. Those ladies were fierce!

    I answered your questions on the meme, btw. In much detail. ;) Be warned for verbosity.
    • Yet you survived fine in our bug-infested part of the world! :D Bobby's sister and her fiance house-sat for us once and swore never to return again! Of course, my sil's dislike of creepy-crawlies borders on ridiculous. (She probably meets the diagnostic criteria for specific phobia, in all honesty.) This is the same woman who once refused to enter her car, having found a cricket in it, until a friend arrived to remove said cricket. And, incidentally, we're pretty sure she picked up the cricket at our house! :^P

      I look forward to the verbosity! Reading my flist will be my next writing break. ;)
  • Who says we need to go out into space to see aliens? We've got them living right here on Earth!
    • They are incredibly cool! Jumping spiders can jump up to 50 times the lengths of their bodies. (Oh, the wonderful knowledge I am earning as a DS employee! :D)

      The ones in the video are much larger and weirder looking than the wee little jumping spiders we get around here.
  • Whoa. Those ladies are tenacious! That's one sensitive microphone, too.

    You've read the account of my wolf spider incident not long after we first met so you know how I stand on that species. However, I find that I like jumping spiders and think they're cute little critters (your anecdote made me say "Awwwww") - and fascinating, too. I also like (but maintain a respectful distance from them) orb weavers.

    One of the most hair-raising chapters in The Lord of the Rings for me as a kid when I first read it was "Shelob's Lair" thanks to aforementioned wolf spider incident. So I was dreading the movie version, thinking how horrible it would be. But PJ failed to unnerve me. Movie!Shelob reminded me more of a jumping spider than a wolf spider. Plus there was the issue of the damn stinger which sent me into as much (or more) of a pedantic fit as when Movie!Frodo told Sam to go back home.
    • I don't remember much from when I read The Hobbit in the fifth grade, but I do remember being very freaked out by the chapter with the spiders! I think Tolkien was an arachnophobic--three major works and three sets of freaky spiders!

      I like orb weavers more than I like orb webs. ;) My newfound enjoyment of spiders doesn't extend to walking through spiderwebs or having to put my hand into cobwebs. When I was a kid, I was playing in the woods, not paying much attention, and I happened to stop, and it's good that I did! About an inch from my face was an orb web stretched across the path with a big spider perched right in front of my nose. Walking into that would have been Not Good.

      One of the reason that I like jumping spiders so much is that they don't build webs. And they really are cute.
  • Basically, males tend to concede easily and their fights involve a lot of posturing. Females tend to fight to the death--or at least severe injury. Why? Because females have an interest in protecting their nests, which they need when they molt.

    My guess is that that's a basic pattern that you'll find in almost all Earth animals, from Momma Bears to hamsters to human teenagers (I've observed that teenage boys tend to fight to a quick end, just so everyone knows who's been whupped, but girls really go for the voonerables, hair and eyes, scratching and clawing, pretty dangerous stuff if you don't separate them).

    If I moved too abruptly, he would sink back down, but I could still see little eyes peeping over, watching me.

    That is possibly the single most adorable thing I've ever read about a spider, including Charlotte's Web (which I thought was treacly).
    • My sister bore scars for some years from our last bout of hand-to-hand combat so ... o.O

      I love how the males hold open their forelegs, like they're saying, "Look how big I am! You don't want to mess with me!" I think they'd do better intimidating most people than each other!

      That is possibly the single most adorable thing I've ever read about a spider, including Charlotte's Web (which I thought was treacly).

      He was incredibly cute. Jumping spiders have big eyes too, so I find them really easy to anthropomorphize. Then again, I think lightning bugs are about the cutest animals in the world. So I probably don't represent a majority opinion where cuteness is concerned. ;)
      • like they're saying, "Look how big I am! You don't want to mess with me!"

        Another trait that they share with males of all Earth species!

        Jumping spiders have big eyes too, so I find them really easy to anthropomorphize.

        Just went and looked up a photo. ZOMG big googly eyes furry face big smile! *deep breath* Woodjie woodjie woodjie!
        • Another trait that they share with males of all Earth species!

          While they were circling around with their arms open, I sort of had the thought of a group of guys drinking beer around a BBQ grill and swapping tall tales about how they "fucked that guy up" that looked at their girlfriend or whatever.

          ZOMG big googly eyes furry face big smile!

          LMAO! I'm glad I'm not alone! "My" jumping spider was a little smaller than dime-sized (with legs), so while not large, he was big enough that I could see his face, even from some distance away. I miss the little critter.
  • Whoa, the noises in the second video...!

    Those are cool! I try to keep my distance except for photography or putting them outside, but I think they're fun.

    Harvestmen, too--I saw one with THE longest legs on my porch yesterday, and man, did it make me glad I'm not arachnophobic. For a while it was sitting mostly out of sight but its legs were reaching up and resting over the side of the ledge it was on, and then for another while it was sitting completely still on the side of my house... just staring and watching... (can't believe I didn't get any pictures! :\)

    Ticks and mites and certain other arachnids, I'm perfectly happy not to have any encounters with, though. :S
    • Whoa, the noises in the second video...!

      I know! I watched it again a little while ago, and I'd forgotten how intense the sound of the fighting was.

      Harvestmen, too

      I love harvestmen! Strange child that I was, I used to let them crawl up my arms and sit on top of my head and walk around like that. I don't know if you've ever heard that persistent rumor that "they're the most poisonous spiders on Earth!!1! ... but their mouths are too small to bite people"? Not true. Well, first of all, they're not spiders, and they're not even venomous. They basically catch their prey and gnaw it to death.

      I see them all of the time on the sides of houses, just chillin'. Apparently, they have awful eyesight, so the males sit like that in hopes that a female will trip over him!

      These are all factoids learned while researching the "Common Michigan Spiders That Don't Build Webs" article. Harvestmen are not spiders but since most people think they are (and they are arachnids), then I included them anyway.

      (can't believe I didn't get any pictures! :\)

      I can't believe that either! That's so out-of-character! :D

      Ticks and mites and certain other arachnids, I'm perfectly happy not to have any encounters with, though. :S

      Totally agreed! Ticks are one critter that I'm trying to appreciate their role in this world, other than causing misery and transmitting disease.
  • Interesting article; I never knew that about them. (And that video - yikes!)
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