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The Endangered Unknown: Spruce-Fir Moss Spider

By Peter Kleinhenz
December 2, 2011
File under: Animal Stories, Arachnid, Insects, Wildlife

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The tallest peaks of North Carolina and Tennessee seem like a very unlikely place to find a tarantula but, remarkably, one can be found there. The Spruce-Fir Moss Spider, Microhexura montivaga, is one of the smallest tarantulas on Earth and is only about the size of a BB gun pellet.

The spider’s common name provides a specific habitat description of the species, since it lives under moss that grows on north-facing rocks that are scattered throughout high-elevation Fraser Fir/Red Spruce forest. Here, it constructs a tube-shaped web that it uses to catch its prey, which scientists assume to be mainly springtails.

One would think that the highest forests in remote parts of North Carolina and Tennessee would safeguard this tarantula from most threats, but that is unfortunately not the case. …read more of The Endangered Unknown: Spruce-Fir Moss Spider here

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EEEK! A Spider!

By Christine DePetrillo
July 3, 2011
File under: Arachnid, Wildlife


What do you do when you see a spider? Do you freak out? Do you run away screaming your head off? Do you find someone to kill the beast and save you from certain attack?Or do you calmly take a moment to observe one of nature’s amazing creatures?

Let’s think about this scientifically, shall we? Spiders are carnivores, but relax. You actually don’t look that tasty to a spider. Most spiders eat insects, but some will eat other spiders, mice, or tiny fish.

Spiders actually perform a great service to humans by …read more of EEEK! A Spider! here

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The Grass Seed and the Spider

By Corinne Kendall
June 17, 2011
File under: Arachnid, Insects, Species Profiles

Crab spider camouflages beautifully with the grass stalk

My fascination with arachnids continued as we sat in the grass having lunch. I noticed a small animal float before me and suddenly wiggle its way onto a grass stalk. Intrigued I took a closer look and discovered my first Kenyan crab spider.

Crab spiders are amazing. They use very little silk and instead rely on their stealth to catch insects. Usually they can be found on flowers, waiting for an unsuspecting pollinator, such as a fly or a bee, to come to the flower. Some crab spiders can even change colors to blend in with the flower of their choosing.

These small spiders get their names from the way they hold the two pairs of front legs, spread wide and ever ready to give some insect prey an unwelcome hug. This particular spider was camouflaging so well that it took me nearly touching it for my field assistant to see it.

Initially it had been climbing around the grass stalk unaware, but when it noticed the attention it was receiving it went into hiding mode. It looked just like a part of the grass stalk with its legs stretched out like tiny seeds.

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Whether you’re a scientist working in the field or a young person in your backyard, this is where you get to share your stories through pictures, videos and articles with the rest of the world. Without your voice, these stories go unshared, and our planet’s ecology, wildlife and natural resources go unexplored. Connect with each other and us and let’s enjoy this process of learning from one another.

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