Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friendly Neighborhood Spider

First off, I have so many half-written posts and well, one of these next few days, I 'm hoping to finish them. I guess I'm in a bit of a slump in my time here. Part of it is how much I enjoyed being back home in my month long interview 'circuit'. And having to leave again has been a little hard on me, since my first few months in Borneo really made it clear to me how lucky I am to have all the family and friends that I do.  In some senses the 'newness' of Kuching is fading away, as I've become familiar with customs, the way of life, food, more food, and the mentality here. Don't get me wrong; I still love it here and am enjoying myself, just that it's requiring a little more initiative from me to seek out cool new experiences. I'm craving trips to some new places, but the monsoon season is at odds with that. Instead of spreading out my travels, they'll all come in a few grand trips (March is going to be a big traveling month), when the weather has improved. To try to combat this slump, I'm trying to look out for new and exciting experiences or sights in daily life here.

Spider under some short wave UV light
It turns out I need not look beyond the front gate of Gilbert's driveway. Early this week, we found this ~3 cm long (body) neon yellow giant propped comfortably against it's unique web. Though it was no Acromantula, this one seemed pretty big as far as I've seen here. What was cool were some white strips on its body that seemed to glow in the dark (In the end, those strips turned out to just be very light reflective). I brought out the tripod and started snapping away. Since it was already dark, I took out the flash, and then also experimented with the UV lamp. It turns out most spiders' bodies glow or are fluorescent under UV. The next day the spider changed sides, and then the day after moved to the other side of the gate. What's amazing to me is how the web was completely gone where the spider had been the night before. And then for some reason, the spider just went back to its original position the next day. I wonder if it breaks down that original web and completely remakes it? And what's the stability of the web once it is spun? Can the spider adjust the strength and elasticity of the web according to the environment? I assume yes (because insects are just that amazing), but wonder how the spider even senses the environment and consciously affects it's own biochemistry. I clearly should have taken an entomology class because I have a soft spot in my heart for insect biology. As long as they keep their greasy, slimy legs off my chocolate souffle.

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