These vials are full of spiders preserved in alcohol. They are just a tiny sample of the collection at the American Museum of Natural History. In fact, with over a million spiders, the Museum’s holdings are the largest in the world.

Archives like this one are a treasure trove for scientific research. Painstakingly labeled with precise data as to time and place of collection, the specimens are a library of life for researchers tackling questions ranging from evolution to biogeography to climate change.

Why alcohol? The spiders in the Museum’s collection are preserved in alcohol so they don’t dry out. A shriveled spider is impossible to study—researchers rely on minute anatomical details to determine species, for instance. Even when examining a spider under a microscope, scientists place it in a dish of alcohol.

See this and live spiders in Spiders Alive! open now through November 29. 

280 days of Urbpandemonium #158

The eastern parson spider Herpyllus ecclesiasticus* is relatively new to me, but I find them with regularity inside my work building. These are nocturnal ground spiders, roaming and hunting, darting out from beneath rocks and leaf litter to catch their prey. These spiders have probably benefitted greatly from the incursion of human structures into their range. They can be found indoors year-round.

*Herpyllus is a Greek masculine noun referring to “tufted thyme,” a type of creeping plant (Cameron 2005). Since this spider creeps and crawls without a web, perhaps Hentz was making an analogy. In Latin, ecclesiasticus means “pertaining to the congregation,” as the markings on the spider’s abdomen so resemble the old-style cravat (neck band) worn by nineteenth century parsons or ministers.

so i finished eating all the english muffins in the house so i was like “OH WOW what a nice time to go to bed” so lalala i skip upstairs and into my fucking room and LO AND BEHOLD a freaking spider is just perched on my ceiling. So I got nervous when he moved over my bed, so i threw an eraser at him but he fell ONTO MY BED AND NOW I CANT FIND HIM

So I don’t like killing things. Like when a spider is chillin in its home and people are like “OH NO KILL IT!” I’m just like “um. No. What’s the point.” Even if spider is chillin out in my house, id prefer to take it outside over killing it. It doesn’t know better.

Apparently I’ve become notorious for this. I visited some of my camp friends and we were walking through down town when one of us notices a huge ass spider on a web on a street sign.

One of the guys I was with is like “I got it” and takes off his flip flop and I’m just like “what are you doing?”

Then he’s like. “Oh yeah. Amanda’s here. Nevermind.” And puts his flip flop back on.

I mean it’s not a bad thing to be notorious for I guess.



Vampire Spiders Hunt Blood-Filled, Malaria-Spreading Mosquitoes

There are two species of jumping spiders that specialize in hunting mosquitoes, and one of them is especially drawn to female mosquitoes filled with human blood. The findings, published in the Journal of Arachnology last month, suggest that these mosquito terminators might be natural allies in our fight against malaria.

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Living Architecture: Tomás Saraceno’s Cosmic Spider Webs Propose an Alternative to Human Structures

An artist trained as an architect, Tomás Saraceno deploys insights from engineering, physics, chemistry, aeronautics and materials science in his work. He creates inflatable and airborne biospheres with the morphology of soap bubbles, spider webs, neural networks or cloud formations, which are speculative models for alternate ways of living. Spider webs, which Saraceno has experimented with for several years, have featured as the central theme of several major environmental installations and spark inquiry into possible modes to redefine relationships between humans and nature, proposing utopian conditions for sustainable societies. For the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, he will present his latest explorations into the architectural, engineering, social, cosmological and symbolic values of these structures.