The Year In Spiders: 2019

At the end of 2018, I was burnt out on politics, and I decided to instead write about something I genuinely loved and could change people’s minds about: spiders. I started writing up the various bits of arachnid-related things I come across, calling it “Arachnews”.

Still from "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse", showing an awed Miles Morales ("me") copying Peter B. Parker ("actual arachnologists").
My very first Arachnews post.

In April, Sebastian Alejandro Echeverri asked Spider Twitter who might be interested in a group blog, to provide better coverage of arachnids than the usual “creepy-crawly” stuff you see in the news. I jumped aboard, and we switched from my “random bookmarks of things people send me” system to a spreadsheet of Google Scholar alerts. I had no idea how much stuff was out there, guise. It’s a whole new world. Yes, like the song, but, like, with more spiders.

Aladdin & Jasmine on flying carpet superimposed over video of C. lividum spiderlings and mother
🎶️ A whole new world 🎶️ (video by chrisweeet)

Here are my 2019 highlights—not just personal favourites, but stuff you’ll see popping up again in years to come. Continue reading The Year In Spiders: 2019

Arachnews: November 2019

In this month’s Arachnews:

  • the usual stunning photos of divers arachnids
  • lots of research on ecology, pest control of mites (often with mites), venom, and tick-borne disease
  • spiders in the age of the dinosaurs
  • intriguing endosymbiont discoveries
  • rhino ticks! elephant ticks!
  • a bunch of Brachypelma tarantulas have been moved to a new genus, Tliltocatl
  • some very cool new finds, like new liphistiid species and ancient troglobitic harvies

Check it out over at Arachnofiles on Medium.

Arachnews: October 2019

Whoops, forgot to post this after it came out! Anyway, the October edition of Arachnews has lots of stuff:

  • award-winning spider portraits
  • cute mite faces
  • #Arachtober art
  • how to extract spider venom
  • jumping spiders on caffeine
  • EXTREME! 🛹 sexual size dimorphism

Do go check it out, clap, etc.

Arachnews: September 2019

My regular roundup of arachnid-related art, news, and science is up at Arachnofiles! In this month’s Arachnews:

  • new ZeFrank!
  • quality photos, memes, and merch
  • educational articles about spider silk, Spider Season, and more
  • arachnid relationships with parasitic wasps, ants, and fungus
  • new Portia personality paper
  • new trade protections—and expanded range—for Poecilotheria, the popular tarantula genus also known as “pokies”

And lots more! Go, read, “clap”, etc.

Arachnews: August 2019

This past month was very busy, as I have been making up for all the work I missed recovering from surgery. So this Arachnews is rather late. But, tons of great stuff! In this month’s edition: rainbow-faced spiders, the results of the Great Black Widow Race, the goods on that “climate change making spiders more aggressive” story, a scorpion-inspired pressure sensor, a new Portia paper, and more.

I’ve also changed the formatting up a bit. Links to the original papers are now posted at the end of each item, accompanied by Sci-Hub links unless they’re open access (marked with a 🔓️).

CBC Radio Stream URLs

Recently CBC revamped its music streams again and the old URLs don’t work. Why would they do this? Well, they want people to listen using the website or official app, or via platforms they have agreements with, like Google Home and Alexa.

Personally, I think this is bullshit. I like listening to music while on the computer, but I’m not opening a whole-ass modern web browser, on top of whatever else I have open, for a simple audio stream. And if I’m using headphones with my phone or an actual physical radio, how am I supposed to hear sounds on my computer? So, after some helpful tips from more techy folks on Mastodon, I threw together this playlist with all the local CBC Radio 1 and CBC Music streams available at CBC Listen. Details below the fold.

Continue reading CBC Radio Stream URLs

Introducing Arachnofiles

So I’ve joined a new group blog, Arachnofiles! We’re a bunch of spider fans (both arachnologists and amateurs) who are hoping to create some quality stories that go beyond the dreary “creepy-crawly, ugh” angle you see in mainstream media coverage and shed light on current research. You can find the latest Arachnews posts there. And there’s a lot more content, because now we’ve got a group spreadsheet for adding links, and it’s not just one lonely, non-scientist person’s Firefox bookmarks.

I’ll still post updates here when a new post goes up, but if you use Medium, you can also follow Arachnofiles and, uh, engage there. And if you come across any neat spider-related stuff, please send it my way!

Arachnews: April 2019

Featured image: the newly described jumping spider Uroballus carlei resembles a caterpillar. Credit: Stefan Obenauer, iNaturalist.

There’s satire, cake, molecular phylogeny, and more in this round-up of all things arachnid. This month is very jumping spider-heavy—but can you blame me?!

Continue reading Arachnews: April 2019