Friday, June 21, 2013

Mom, Is This a Brown Recluse In My Closet‽

Yes, summer has arrived. It’s time to play in the yard, go to the ball park, or strap on your hiking shoes. It’s also time to spray on the anti-bug spray, and determine which multi-legged species is invading your play space, or (gulp), your bed. The North American Insects and Spiders website from Red Planet is a great site for determining exactly what kind of creepy crawly you’re dealing with. Luscious, close-up photographs of spiders, bees, and beetles make it very easy to figure out if you’re looking at a Brown Recluse or a Longbodied Cellar Spider. Although the photographs do enhance the user’s ability to correctly identify insects, there’s more to this site than just pretty photographs. For example the nearly microscopic photo of the Brown Recluse clearly shows three distinct eye clusters. The site then explains that “a definitive physical feature of recluse spiders is their eyes: most spiders have eight eyes that typically are arranged in two rows of four, but recluse spiders have six equal-sized eyes arranged in three pairs, called dyads.” Entries also provide fascinating insights into their lives.

The Brown Recluse.

Under the beautiful Hieroglyphic Moth we learn that “some of the family is preyed upon by bats. However, these members have developed an evasive system whereby upon hearing the high pitched note which is emitted by the bat to locate its prey, a tiny organ in the ear sends muscles in the wings into spasm - causing the moth to dart around erratically. This random movement has the effect of evading the incoming bat.”

The Hieroglyphic Moth.

The site is relatively user friendly. (After all, you don’t want too much complication when you’re trying to identify what you just found between your sheets.) To use the site first click on the order, e.g. spiders, beetles, butterflies, etc. You’ll find the different families on the next screen. If you know the name of the insect you’re looking for, a more efficient search option is to simply click on one of the indexes on the front page. This will supply you with a list of the insects in that order.

Most of the photographs on this site were taken by Bruce Marlin. Some of the entries include personal stories such as how he and his son tracked down a particular beetle or spider. Even picking entries randomly reveals that this website is a product of love. And this makes you wonder why nearly every page advertises Terminix®.

Submitted by David Ryan
Business, Science & Technology Department
Central Library

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