In the email Jason sends to guest editors, one of the rules is, “Don’t embed any videos of ants trying to mate with their queen as their queen gets bit in the head by a spider.” I thought it was an oddly specific rule, but, you know. Today, however, when I came upon a video of ants trying to mate with their queen as their queen gets bit in the head by a spider I felt like maybe you’d want to see it. I’m not going to embed it, because that would be breaking the rules, but here’s the link because science. “A more macabre video from the insect kingdom would be hard to find”.
PS The rule about not posting pictures of your cat is new as of last night.
(via Mike Davidson)
The American Museum of Natural History is displaying a 11’x4’ tapestry made completely of spider silk. It took four years, required more than one million spiders, and cost $500,000 to make.
The task of silking a spider starts with a small machine — designed centuries ago when the first attempts to silk spiders were begun — that holds the spider down.
“The spiders are harnessed … held down in a delicate way,” Godley says, “so you need people to do this who are very tactile so the spiders are not harmed. So there’s a chain of about 80 people who go out every morning at four o’clock, collect spiders, we get them in by 10 o’clock. They’re in boxes, they’re numbered, and then as they get silked, about 20 minutes later, they get released back into nature.”
The vivid yellow is the natural color of the spider’s silk. If you can’t make it to see the exhibition at the AMNH, check out a video featuring the tapestry. (thx, renee)
For her Mended Spiderweb project, Nina Katchadourian found spiderwebs in need of repair and fixed them with a needle and thread.
All of the patches were made by inserting segments one at a time directly into the web. Sometimes the thread was starched, which made it stiffer and easier to work with. The short threads were held in place by the stickiness of the spider web itself; longer threads were reinforced by dipping the tips into white glue. I fixed the holes in the web until it was fully repaired, or until it could no longer bear the weight of the thread.
The spiders didn’t think much of her handiwork:
The morning after the first patch job, I discovered a pile of red threads lying on the ground below the web. At first I assumed the wind had blown them out; on closer inspection it became clear that the spider had repaired the web to perfect condition using its own methods, throwing the threads out in the process. My repairs were always rejected by the spider and discarded, usually during the course of the night, even in webs which looked abandoned.