Why Researchers Are Fascinated With The Spider Species That Eats Only Termites

Why Researchers Are Fascinated With The Spider Species That Eats Only Termites

Animal Predators can be either picky or indiscriminate when it comes to their feeding choices. There does not exist any predators that can eat just anything, as every predator species has its own tastes. Researchers have also never discovered any predatory animals that only consume one single species, except for one. Recently researchers discovered the very first monophagous true predator, which is a predator that consumes only one particular species of animal. The predator in question is a type of spider that belongs to the Ammoxenidae genus. Researchers have demonstrated that at least one spider species in the Ammoxenidae family preys upon, and consumes only one termite species. This termite species is known as Hodotermes mossambicus.

The Hodotermes mossambicus species of termite is more commonly referred to as the harvester termite, and they can be highly destructive to grassland and other forms of vegetation. Ammoxenid spiders live both in and out of soil and they are sometimes called sand divers due to their ability to dive headfirst into the ground when threatened. Since these termites and spiders both inhabit South African soil, they naturally encounter each other often, and these encounters never end well for the harvester termites. The spiders are always found to be concentrated in regions that are also highly populated with harvester termites, as the harvesters are their only food source. Ammoxenid spiders are able to detect termites either through vibrations or chemical cues. Once a young Ammoxenid spider is given its first harvester termite prey, the spider picks up on tactile cues from this initial encounter in order to locate more harvester termites on its own in the future.

The spider will first attack a harvester by biting one in between its head and cephalothorax. The harvester is then pulled beneath the soil’s surface where it is sucked of all its innards. Since harvester termites are not active year round, the spiders must collect enough harvester prey to keep on reserve during the termites off season. The spiders collect extra harvester termites by placing them in silken sacs for later consumption. The Ammoxenid spiders and their silken sacs are often found habitating abandoned harvester termite mounds.

Do you think that there are more spiders or insects that prey upon one particular species, but scientist have yet to discover them?

 

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Bites From Old World Tarantulas Can Be Deadly Due To Their Need To Compensate For A Lack Of Defensive Features

 

Tarantula spiders are divided into two categories: old world tarantulas and new world tarantulas. Old world tarantulas include the tarantulas that lack urticating hairs, and instead rely on nothing more than their venomous bites for defense. Old world tarantulas get their name from being more common in Asia and Africa. New world spiders are largely limited to the Americas and they comprise spiders that possess urticating hairs in addition to fangs that deliver venom. New world tarantulas are able to fling their abdominal hairs into their enemies faces, which causes severe irritation in humans. These defensive hairs are known as urticating hairs, and many tarantula owners must exercise caution in order to avoid them. Old world tarantula venom is typically more potent than new world tarantula venom, as old world tarantulas have no other method of defense available to them when faced with enemies. This makes old world tarantula bites relatively dangerous to humans. In fact, sustaining a bite from an old world tarantula can cause muscle spasms, cramps and eventual death unless an antivenom is administered to a human victim in time.

People all over the world keep and breed tarantulas as pets, and the creatures are typically dismissed by experts as being harmless. Most pet tarantulas are new world specimens and while their urticating hairs can cause allergic reactions in humans, medical literature describes the consequences of their bite in humans as being trivial. However, this is not the case with old world tarantulas, as one study described two old world tarantula owners who suffered severe medical problems following a bite from the Lampropelma nigerrimum and Pterinochilus murinus species. The two men experienced identical symptoms, which included severe localized swelling and persistent and agonizingly painful muscle cramps that lasted more than a week. A third man who sustained a bite from the old world Poecilotheria regalis species developed muscle spasms in addition to the symptoms experienced by the other two men. According to researchers, the toxic effects of old world tarantula venom has been documented but largely ignored in medical literature. Although antivenom for old world tarantula bites do exist, researchers have yet to uncover the particular toxins responsible for the serious medical symptoms that result from their bites. Discovering these toxins would be of great scientific and therapeutic benefit.

Have you ever sustained a bite from a pet tarantula?

 

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Residents From 48 States Sent Brown Recluse Spiders To A Researcher Who Claimed That Their Habitat Is Limited To Only A Few States

Brown recluse spiders are among the most well known of all arachnids, which is understandable considering the deadly reputation that the spiders have generated during the past several decades. The brown recluse group of spiders started to become well known in America during the late 1950s when the first medical reports describing this spider’s potentially deadly bite became available to the public. These early medical reports, as well as several subsequent reports, described how brown recluse bites can sometimes lead to necrotizing infections at the site of the bite wound. Although many Americans have heard of brown recluse spiders, very few are able to recognize them. A study in the Journal of Entomology clearly demonstrated that a vast majority of Americans are convinced that they know what brown recluse spiders look like, despite identifying the wrong spiders as brown recluses. For one thing, brown recluse spiders are only endemic within a handful of American states. Despite this fact, residents of 48 states sent the author of the study brown recluse specimens in order to prove that they can accurately identify the spiders within their home state. Consequently, the researcher received spider specimens that were not brown recluses, and many of the specimens did not even resemble the notorious spiders.

Considering the numerous studies that have been published on brown recluse spiders in America, researchers are certain that this spider’s distribution only lies within the southernmost states as well as a few midwestern states. Although the study’s author claimed that brown recluse spiders do not exist within states located in America’s northern, northeastern or northwestern territories, residents of all the states located within these regions attempted to prove him wrong by sending their own captured brown recluse specimens. Of course, the participants sent the wrong spiders, but this was a part of the study.

The researcher challenged Americans in each state to locate and submit brown recluse specimens that they had captured. The lead researcher did this in order to determine if any brown recluse species migrated to any new states. Based on the submissions, the answer to this question was “no.” The second question that the study’s lead researcher was attempting to answer was where the brown recluse is perceived to exist by the American public, and the answer to this question is “everywhere.” Despite the fear many americans have toward brown recluse spiders, it turns out that Americans are surprisingly ignorant of the brown recluse spiders’ distribution and appearance.

Do you think that you would be able to accurately identify a brown recluse species?

Nelson Ruiz No Comments

Which Venomous Arthropods Are Considered The Deadliest In America?

Which Venomous Arthropods Are Considered The Deadliest America?

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There is no shortage of online articles and blogs that discuss dangerous insects and spiders. Despite how commonly this topic is covered, there seems to be disagreement among experts concerning which arthropods are truly the most dangerous to humans. This is partly due to the fact that “dangerous” is not the same as “deadly,” and arthropods differ in the types of injuries that they inflict. For example, not all arthropod bites are dangerous solely because of the toxic venom that they transmit, as deadly infections can also develop in bite wounds that are inflicted by arthropods with relatively benign forms of venom. The rate of venomous arthropod fatalities is also increasing dramatically in the United States. Africanized honey bee attacks are becoming more frequent and they are far more venomous than many other arthropods, but these bees did not even exist in America prior to the 1960s. Also, medical technology is changing the statistics on arthropod fatalities, as people with venom allergies now carry emergency epinephrine shots known commonly as epipens. These devices save many human lives that would otherwise have been lost to venomous arthropod injuries. Between 2008 and 2016, an average of 86 deaths occurred each year as a result of venomous animal attacks, but only 46 fatalities of this sort occurred between 1950 and 1959. Considering these factors, declaring one single arthropod as “the most dangerous” is not as clear cut as it may seem.

Between 2001 and 2013 an average of seven people died each year from spider bites. Most of these deaths were caused by brown recluse bites, as no antivenom yet exists to treat brown recluse bites. Between 1999 and 2007 only five people were killed from stings inflicted by Arizona bark scorpions. Children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are the only groups of people that are at risk of dying from bark scorpion stings. Bees and wasps are easily the most deadly types of arthropods, as they were responsible for a total of 509 deaths between 1999 and 2007. Yellowjackets and Africanized bees are the most aggressive of this group, and if their nests are disturbed, they can swarm for a full 24 hours, attacking every human and animal in sight.

Have you ever found a brown recluse spider in your home? Did you mercifully transport it outdoors? Or did you kill it?

Spider Sightings Increase in Fall Months

Spider Sightings Increase in Fall Months | Phoenix Spider Control Experts

Spiders aren’t a seasonal pest, but many homeowners tend to notice an increased presence in their homes in the early fall months as the arachnids become more obvious while they search for a mate. Even though most spider species in the United States don’t pose health risks to humans, most people aren’t comfortable with any species sharing their living space. Magic Pest Control reminds homeowners that the best way to prevent spider infestations is to remove harborage sites within their homes.

Spiders seek out secluded, undisturbed areas where they can build a web to catch their next meal, which means attics, basements and seldom used closets could be harboring these pests. Spiders can also crawl into homes through damaged window screens or cracks in the siding, meaning homeowners should conduct periodic checks of these areas to reduce spider problems.

It’s important to note that the black widow and brown recluse spiders are two species found in the United States that do pose health risks to humans when disturbed or feeling threatened.

The brown recluse spider typically does not bite humans unless threatened, but their bites can be painful and result in open sores. Measuring about a half inch with a dark brown violin marking on its back, brown recluse spiders build their webs in warm, dry and dark environments, notably basements and closets. Similarly, black widow spiders do not bite humans instinctively. However, when they do bite, they can cause extremely painful bites, especially for children and the elderly. Recognized for its red hourglass shape under the abdomen, these spiders spin their webs close to the ground and are most often found in woodpiles and undisturbed areas.

Magic Pest Control offers the following tips to help prevent contact with spiders:

  • Avoid keeping clothing and shoes on the floor, especially if in an area known for spiders; consider storing inside plastic containers.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around the home.
  • Vacuum/sweep away webs in and around the home.
  • Shake out all clothing that has been in the laundry basket before wearing/washing.
  • Keep garages, attics and basements clean and clutter free.
  • If a spider bites you, contact your primary care physician for medical advice.
  • If you have an infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest control professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.