SPIDERS:  my god I hate spiders, and these are my favorite ones. (what?)

Let's begin:  Why the hell am I writing about spiders?  I really, really do not like spiders.  8-legged Freaks and Arachnophobia  freaked m me the hell out (even Return of the King had a scary ass spider...sort of).  Yet, I was an arachnophobe at an early age, thanks to freaking Vincent Price. That's right, a BAD HORROR movie traumatized me as a young child.  The original "The Fly" has a shot of a spider in it that I still can't look at today.  My parents, being the compassionate and forward-thinking people that they are, decided they should scare the fear out of me.  Re-read what I just wrote.  They decided to expose me to so many spiders and spider-related paraphernalia that I would have no recourse but to abandon my phobia.

After I spent several years in and out of spider-induced comas my parents gave up.  I got to go to spider exhibits and was forced (held down, think Clockwork Orange) to read illustrated books detailing every facet of a spider's nature.  However, the more I learned, the worse it was.  It's not like having a fear of clowns.  If that were the case, you'd eventually figure out that they're just guys in make-up.  Nothing too sinister.  But spiders?  Spiders are bad mothers, let me tell you.  Poisonous, predatory, and instinctively cunning, they are, to me, the epitome of evil carnivores.  Of course I'm not afraid of real spiders.  Seriously.  I'm afraid of things that remind me of the POSSIBILITY of GIANT SPIDERS.  Hell, on the SAT there was a word/math problem that concerned a fictional experiment where they starved WOLF SPIDERS (the same spider that was in The Fly) to see how much they looked for food versus courting behavior.  All I could imagine was a government facility experimenting with giant spiders, seeing how long they would live without food.  I still remember the air-vent next to my desk that I SWEAR was watching me, hungrily.  Anyway, movies, photographs, and those Brazilian Bird-eating spiders all give me nightmares.  Yet the more and more I learned the more interested I got.  So with a little research, I ended up finding some hardcore EVIL spiders.  Everyone loves a villain. These are mine.

1.  Misumena Vatia, the flowering crab spider.

One of the evil spiders, these bitches live in flowers.  They wait in a flower, living off bumblebees and butterflies.  They're all over the world and come in so many color variations its disturbing.  They tend to look like the flower they choose as their feeding ground.   There's something metaphorically sexual about these spiders, as far as I'm concerned.  They wait in the shape of something beautiful only to suck out your internal juices as soon as you succumb to the beauty (or the scent of pollen but that's besides the point).  Maybe I've had a few bad relationships.

2.  The Ant Mimic.

I first heard about these guys from my "Charlie Brown Encyclopedia," something my parents bought me due to its extensive section on spiders.  While I have nothing against Snoopy, I somehow felt betrayed.  I still remember:  Every page had Snoopy or a Peanuts character doing something cute and educational.  On the spider pages: Nothing!  I was alone.  But I digress...

Ant mimic spiders are spiders that look like ants.  There you go. Very simple.  Yet spiders have too many legs, not enough body segments, and a number of other differences from ants.  If you look at one, it's close, but not perfect.  These guys, according to Charlie Brown, "Infiltrate an ant hill, lurking in the less-used tunnels.  They feed when they are alone with another ant, or when another ant discovers their disguise."  My god.  I really can't say anything else besides the fact that these guys are awesome.  I mean, do they just hide or do they actually do work like the other ants?  Do they perform strategic strikes to keep the ant colony disorganized and politically weak?  Spy spiders, or SPYdors if you will, that rule the ant hill from the shadows.  If ants have summer camp, this is what most of the stories would be about.  Trust no one, little larva.    

Ant :  Hey man, how's it going?

"ANT" : 

Ant :  So, um.  I take it you're new?

"ANT" :

Ant :  Well there newbie, if you're going to replace Carl  you'll have to be pretty quick on your feet.

"ANT" :

Ant :  Um. Yeah.  Soooooooooo.  You got a name?

"ANT" :  ANT.

Ant : Come again?

"ANT" :  ANT.

Ant :

"ANT" :  ANT.     ANT.      ANT.

Ant :  Oookay.  Yea...I think you'll be just fine.  I'll, um, be over there.

"ANT" :  ANT.

Ant :  Exactly.

Meanwhile, back at the ant hill: 

Ant:  Hey Bob, I'm not really sure what to think of the new guy.  I mean we all remember what happened to Carl...

Bob:

Ant:  Precisely.  I'm starting to think that there may be something going on with these new guys that keep getting sent in here. 

Ant:  I mean, aphid farmin' isn't exactly social work but you start to get a bit suspicious when none of the guys are, well, y'know?

Ant:  I mean its freakin creepy.  None of the new guys bring lunch with them, and they don't seem to know what they're doing.  They just keep watching me to see what I do. 

Ant:  Yeah, just like that.  Y'know, you've got that down really well Bob.  Bob?  You ok?

Bob:     

Ant:  Bob?

 Bob:  ANT?

 

 Later...

"Bob :  ANT?

 

Carl :  ANT.

 

3.  The Portia Spider.

Related to the wolf spider, this jumping spider is one after my own heart.  Eating only other spiders, Portia (mythological name, look it up) has one of the best methods of catching spiders.  Not creating a web of her own, Portia visits other webs and uses misinformation to manipulate the other spider.  Biology lesson:  Spiders sense vibrations in their webs...its how can tell they've caught something.  Spiders also communicate with potential mates and rivals by tapping on the web.  "I'm not food, I want some action you big sexy thing!"  But I paraphrase their love sonnets...Its probably more like: "I wants some action and then I'm food."  Yep.  Spiders very often eat their mates.  :end biology lesson:

Portia goes to a web and starts sending messages, depending on what kind of web it is or what kind of spider she sees.  Besides offering sex, she'll pretend to be a poor helpless moth caught in a web or even move with the wind.  When its windy, a spider can't read its web.  Its like a smoke-screen.  I'm sorry but I think there's nothing much cooler than a spider that runs circles around other members of this bastard species.  Of course the spider has to try out a few messages before figuring out which one will work.  

Let's put the Portia in context:  You get a phone call.  "Hey baby, you want to party?"  Of course, not.  :click:  Phone rings again:  "Pardon me, madame, I was wondering if you could help me move?"  Ummm. Do I know you?  :click:  Phone rings again.  "Hello lucky caller!  You've just won twelve million dollars!"  Wow!  What's the catch?  "Hello lucky caller!  You've just won twelve million dollars!  Come outside now."  Excuse me? What did you just say?  "Hello lucky come outside caller! You've just come outside now won twelve million come outside now dollars!"  :click:  

See?  Evil.

Anyway, you've survived a far-too-long rant about spiders.  At the bottom of this page is a link to a report I wrote about Misumena, including a bunch of pictures I ripped offline for the report.  Read it if you you're bored, or need a biology paper really quickly.

-Jared 2/6/03

  Steal this biology paper!

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