Spiders Grow Stronger And Larger In The City
IF you want to encounter smaller spiders in your bed then move to the country; and if you love the big ones, it’s the city for you. Wired reports:
Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.
A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.
The study’s authors collected 222 of the creatures from parks and bushland throughout Sydney, and correlated their sizes to features of the built and natural landscape.
They dissected each specimen back at the lab, and determined its size, health, and fecundity by measuring four attributes: the length of the spider’s longest leg segment, the ratio of that leg segment to overall body weight, the amount of fat on the spider, and its ovary size.
To measure urbanization, the authors looked primarily at ground cover throughout the city, at several scales, where they collected each spider: Are surfaces mostly paved? Is there a lack of natural vegetation? Lawns as opposed to leaf litter?
“The landscape characteristics most associated with larger size of spiders were hard surfaces (concrete, roads etc) and lack of vegetation,” said Elizabeth Lowe, a Ph.D student studying arachnids at the University of Sydney.
A Cambodian girl offers deep-fried spiders to travelers at the town of Skun, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, July 25, 2006. The town is the most well-known place for selling deep-fried spiders to travelers, who stop by on their way to and from the country’s northern and northeastern provinces. ( AP Photo/Heng Sinith)