Do all spiders spin webs?

Spider webs are some of the most intricate creations of nature in existence. The way they are made and they way that spiders utilize them, is absolutely incredible. Today, we are going to talk about how spider silk is made and how they use it. It should be known, that all spiders make silk, but not all spiders use that silk to make webs. Other uses of silk include: climbing, building walls for burrows, protection for egg sacs, transportation, and catching prey. Spiders transport by attaching an end of the silk to one side of a tree branch and dangling off the other, then letting go and moving with the wind; this is known as kiting. They also use the silk to “fish” in rivers and such “throwing a line” and catching what sticks. The use of the silk, completely depends upon the type of spider and their role in the wild. Different silks have different uses depending on the niche of the spider as well, some are sticky while others are impeccably strong. Now that we have some semblance of the who, what and why, we can gain a better understanding of how spiders create this stuff!  Spider silk is made within the spider through glands in it’s abdomen. The silk starts as a liquid made out of proteins and as the spider releases the silk out of its abdomen it becomes the fiber that is visible to us, the web. Spiders are so much more complex than the “scary” arachnid we see on the outside. 

Why are wasps important?

Whenever we think of wasps, we think of nasty pests, getting stung, nests on our house, and other annoying attributes they tend to have. What we don’t realize is that where there is bad, there is often some good, and believe it or not, wasps have a pinnacle role in nature in helping the circle of life. Wasps provide parasitism, pollination, and predation. Parasitism happens when two species interact and one of them is helped while the other sacrifices. Wasps are used as insect control in farm crops, because while they don’t damage the crops they lay their eggs in caterpillars and ruin any chance of the caterpillars harming the crop. Wasps, like bees, are also pollinators. People always think of bees as the only pollinators, and that without them plants would die, which is true, but wasps are just as important and effective when it comes to pollinating. Predation, is perhaps one of the most important attributes that wasps offer. Some people know that wasps are great spider killers, but lesser known is the just how many insects they actually kill. Without wasps there would an exponentially greater number of insects in the world, so much that it would affect our ecosystem. Wasps are important, and without them there would be an astronomical ripple effect within the circle of life. Be careful the next time you see these pesky creatures, but keep in mind that they do a lot for us! 

 

How is an ant hill made?

Ant hills are some of the most intricate nests in the animal kingdom, yet hardly anyone knows their inner workings, or much about them at all.  I know I always thought that ants just, pile some dirt wherever they want and then live in that hill, but it’s actually far more sophisticated. Here’s the real intricacy behind how ant colonies build their homes. First, they search for the most adequate spot, which needs to be most ground, close to water, but not too close for obvious reasons. Once they have found the perfect spot, the ants will begin to dig their home.

A nest is separated into chambers, with the bottom holding the Queen Ant and her eggs. As the ants carve this out they will bring the dirt to the surface and stack it around the entrance which makes the hill we see above ground. They create a system of chambers and tunnels underground which aids in the organization of the hierarchies of the colony. The chambers stack in a sort of staggering fashion to avoid multiple cave-ins, and each chamber is separated by ant type. There is a chamber for worker ants, a chamber for soldier ants, etc.  This helps the ants be able to work together in a more productive way and helps them do what they need to do to continue their circle of life.

What can eat a spider?

When we think of spiders, we usually think of them as hunters, the top of the food chain, the “Big Kahuna” if you will. Well, believe it or not, there are many types of creatures that go after these bad boys, and today we identify who can size up against the eight-legged menace.

Astonishingly, spiders have a lot of enemies aside from humans. Spiders seem to be at the top because of how many types of insects they dominate, but in reality many creatures stalk spiders as prey, as is the circle of life.

 

There is a niche group of creatures called insectivores that mainly hunt insects and spiders. A few insectivores around us include, bats, lizards, frogs, rats, and birds. Spiders stand little to no chance with these animals, and thus the above insectivores are some of the biggest predators of spiders! 

Now, when it comes to invertebrates, spiders are the boss. In fact, they are ranked one of the top predators ever. The only small creatures that are known to eat spiders are other spiders and wasps. Though spiders rarely eat one another due to the hunt, the most common time another spider will eat its own kind is because a female spider eats its mate in order to aid their young. Though this is the most common occurrence of spider eating spider action, it doesn’t happen all that often. The real killer in this category is the wasp! Wasps are well known to stalk, kill and eat spiders. They do so by stinging and paralyzing the spider, and then burying the spider with its eggs and once the baby wasps hatch, it’s dinner time and they chow down on the spider. 

Getting Rid of Wasps by the Pool

So, you have wasps around your pool, but you don’t know why. Believe it or not, the wasps are there for the water source, they need water to survive and your pool is the most convenient place to get it. You may be thinking, why on Earth do they want to drink from the pool, doesn’t the chlorine bother them? Well, long story short, no; water is water and wasps just don’t care. Though your pool is an easy water source, we have a way to keep them away! 

  1. Call an Exterminator – Always consider getting professional help first, it will help limit the amount of stings you incur and will ensure they are being removed from the location properly.
  2. Find an Alternative Water Source  –  Create some sort of pond, bird bath, or other water source outside of your pool that has a constant source of water. This is a more pest friendly option; the wasps won’t be harmed and they will leave your pool alone. 
  3. Create a Decoy Nest – Wasps are very territorial creatures, and creating a fake nest will surely deter them from the area surrounding your pool.
  4. Build a Trap–  To build a fake trap, cut a water bottle in half and fill it with diesel fuel. The wasps are attracted to the fuel, and will go into the bottle and drown. Though this method is less pest friendly, it gets the job done. 

If all else fails, your best chance is to locate the wasp’s nest by the pool and get rid of it. See my other blog: How do you get rid of a wasp nest? 

      

Why do some things glow under a UV/black light?

What do scorpions and teeth have in common? They both glow under a UV/black light! If you think about it, we see these types of lights quite often, in amusement parks, Halloween, bowling alleys, and even pest control. The real question is why do some things glow under UV/black lights, while others don’t?

 

A black light is actually a type of UV light, there are many types of UV or Ultraviolet lights, but the one in a black light is specifically UV-A. Ultraviolet light is a type of light with a less than normal wavelength, meaning it is out of the the visibility spectrum. UV lights are the the same type of light that emits from the sun. When these UV lights hit and reflect off of certain things, interesting reactions will happen. For example, when UV rays from the sun hit your skin you could get sunburned. In the case of a black light, when the UV light hits the chemical element phosphorus, it reacts by glowing. “Coincidentally”, phosphorus is common in plasma screen televisions, certain fabrics, teeth, fingernails, and scorpions! So if you’re ever at a bowling alley and your shirt, teeth, and fingernails start to glow, the answer is phosphorus!

How do ants work together?

Whether you see them walking in a straight line, carrying their food as a team, or building a colony together, it’s no secret that ants are very organized and have a secret way of communicating that we can’t see.  Surprisingly this “secret” communication they use has nothing to do with speaking. One way ants communicate is by releasing pheromones that are universally understood by one another to signal different things, such as calling attention to food and alerting others of enemies.  Like the story of Hansel and Gretel they leave a trail of breadcrumbs, or, in this case, if an ant finds food, they leave a trail pheromones for the other ants to follow. They do this by using their antennae as sensors and continuing the succession of pheromones as they continue on their path to alert others. Ants also communicate through touch, and will lightly touch one another with their antennae to signal something important is happening. Although ants may not speak to each other, that doesn’t mean they never communicate by sound. When ants aren’t in a good position to send pheromones, like being trapped for example, ants with make a sound by rubbing their leg against a part of their body to make a scraping noise, usually as a distress call. Ants can work together because they, like humans, are among the few animals that can communicate in a way that allows them to be connected, sometimes in a way far beyond what humans do.

What is a spider’s web made out of?

For any of you who have seen any Spider Man movie *cough* Spider-Man: Homecoming *cough* which recently came out, you’ll notice that Spider-Man makes his own webbing! Let’s look into what a spider’s web is actually made of, and is it possible to recreate our web slinging friends antics? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When people think about the structure of a web they often think about the rumor that states that they’re stronger than steel… Well, not only is that true, but a spider’s web is actually stronger than steel! This is because of something called tensile strength, which refers to the tension of which the material can withstand, and why a web is more elastic than steel. Without that elasticity, people would be hurting themselves left and right as they try to clear webs.  The spider’s web is made of spider silk, which is an extremely elastic material constructed of lots of protein fibers. That being said, spider silk can bare more weight than steel, however it is much less dense. A spider creates its silk within a very specialized organ, called the spinneret. Another benefit of this silk, is that it contains glue like properties which aid in catching its prey. When an insect comes in contact with the web, they are likely stuck until their demise. Spider silk is also conductive to electricity, and the spider actually uses this to its advantage. They use this conductivity to build up a static charge, and like a sock sticks to a towel if there is too much static in the dryer, an insect with any static charge clinging to it will stick to the web as well, and they are unable to escape. At first glance, a spider web may seem like an intricate design for spiders to lounge on, but the underlying properties are absolutely fascinating. 

 

How do you get rid of a wasp nest?

As you may know, wasps are one of those annoying pests that are constantly angry, and can’t even bother to make us a bit of honey. What. A. Ripoff. There are a select few that choose to keep wasps around because they can kill and eat spiders; they would rather have wasps than spiders? Yuck. Spiders at least trap and eat bugs bugs, so how much are you helping by getting rid of them? This is one of so many reasons as to why wasp eradication should be a priority, and if you agree, then we are going to teach you how to find and then get rid of a wasp’s nest. First, consider calling a professional pest control service, they will be able to safely and effectively find and rid of your wasp nest, and you won’t have to put yourself at risk. If  pest control isn’t an option for you, then you need to start by identifying the type of wasp you are dealing with, who knows, they could be hornets! Hornets are a type of wasp that is very aggressive, and if disturbed in the slightest will sting, even if they aren’t necessarily bothered or in danger. The best way in which to identify if you have wasps or hornets, is to take a look at the structure of the test. If the nest has a “honeycomb” shape, then you are likely dealing with wasps or yellow jackets, but if the nest looks like an orb, sometimes basketball sized, then you are dealing with hornets. Below you will find examples of the nest types: 

Wasp Nest

Hornet Nest 

After you have identified what kind of nest you have, the next step is to get rid of your pest! Having the proper equipment is very important, as any mistake can result in a multitude of painful stings. Be sure to wear protective clothing, it is best to have a bee suit so there are no chances for gaps in protection. You also want to be sure to choose the proper pesticide spray, as your chemical will affect the outcome. It’s easy to pick the right one, just be sure that it indicates it is for wasps and you should be good to go. Next, you want to spray the pesticide directly into the hole of the nest for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary until your problem has been resolved. Tip: Try and spray at night, as they will be less active! After you’re sure they’re dead, knock down the nest with a stick, spray again with pesticide, dispose of the of the pieces, and you are officially wasp free.

 

Where are scorpions found?

Few people know that scorpions are scattered throughout the world in every continent other than Antarctica. That being said, you are most likely to encounter one in your lifetime! Though, these creepy crawlers are mostly found in the hotter regions of these continents, the most diverse group is within North America. In the United States alone, scorpions can be found in the south in its entirety from Florida to Arizona, the mid-west from Colorado to Minnesota, and in the west from California to Washington. They are often hidden in dark places, away from the sun, some common areas are under shady plants and underneath rocks (perhaps in your garden?). Scorpions will go anywhere and do anything to find water and shade, they may enter your home through your garage, sneaking under your doors, or in any cracks they can find on your home that lead inside.  Some other common areas where scorpions may be lurking include, but are not limited to, trees and tree bark, piles of wood, under any plant pots in the yard, and any areas that allow shelter in your home/yard. Within your home, look in/under your bed, in your shoes, and in any clothing that you may have stored that isn’t jostled around often, you never know! All of the above mentioned are just common places in which scorpions may be found, sometimes you will find them on your floor, on your counter-top, in your sink, or on the walls of your home. Scorpion encounters can happen any time, anywhere, just be sure that you are prepared!