Dawdling on the Trail of the Cockroach 

Monday, July 04, 2005

Instead of working on the cockroach article (due Wednesday!), I've been reading about arachnids. I am a thousand times less scared of arachnids than of cockroaches, so this topic is far less painful and a welcome respite from work.

The Handy Bug Answer Book
by Dr. Gilbert Waldbauer provides some facts that readers of Maktaaq might find as astonishing as I did:
  • Though I've heard of studies on the effects of spiders on mescaline (smaller webs, "abnormally variable angles between the radial lines of the web) and on caffeine ("their webs were.....no more than a tangle of threads that would catch no insects"), I've never heard of spiders on acid: "[LCD] induced spiders to waste extra time and energy on building abnormally neat and regular webs that would catch no more insects than the usual webs." I wonder if spiders know that usually they are doing a half-ass job and getting away with it.

  • Here's a fact that alleviates some of the tragedy of being female and not being able to go camping during "that time of the month": many black widow spider victims are men or boys going to the loo. "Black widows sometimes spin their web just beneath the hole in the [outhouse toilet] seat, often a good place to catch flies. If the unfortunate person's penis dangles in the web, the female spider rushes to attack; presumably in defense of her egg sacs, which are attached to the web."

  • "Daddy longlegs have stink glands, but you have to get close to smell them."

  • In some places in the Sudan, a scorpion bite remedy is to rub the bitten area with "the charred toenail of a baboon."

  • In scorpion foreplay, the male takes the female's pincers in his pincers and they dance, sometimes for up to an hour.

  • Some mites live only in moth ears and some of these moths in only one of the moth's ears: newcomer mites make sure they travel to the occupied ear when they join in the infection, instead of attacking the empty ear. Because these mites cause the moth to go deaf they avoid infecting both ears, otherwise the moth will fall prey to bats and shorten lives all around.

  • Seventy-five percent of people have mites living in their hair follicles and pores, especially in the eyelids, eyebrows and nose: "in rare cases they may cause an acne-like condition."
Time to go and bleach the whole house.

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