The University of Waikato - Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
Faculty of Science and Engineering - Te Mātauranga Pūtaiao me te Pūkaha
Waikato Home Waikato Home > Science & Engineering > BioBlog
Staff + Student Login

January 11, 2016 Archives

A few days ago there was a story in the Herald about an Australian huntsman spider that had been found by NZ's border security workers at Auckland airport. With a legspan of up to 15cm these are not small creatures! And yes, we do have them in NZ as well, but they're a different genus: NZ readers may know them as the Avondale spider. 'Our' version was most famously used - and viewed - in the film Arachnophobia

I was reminded of that story when my Facebook feed brought up an article, complete with video, about how the Australian spiders are used by parasitic wasps as incubators for their babies. (A photo in the linked article will give you a good idea of just how big both wasps and spiders are.) Once a spider's been paralysed and dragged back to the wasp's nest, its stuffed into the cavity and a single egg is laid in its body. Once hatched, the growing wasp larva eats its paralysed host, avoiding any vital organs until the last minute (after all, no self-respecting larva would want to dine on rotting spider if that were avoidable!).

Many people would probably find this quite gruesome, but it is simply the wasp's natural behaviour, and something that Darwin himself commented on in a letter to Asa Gray in explaining his thoughts on evolution and religion (it's a most interesting letter to read):

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.

Ickily fascinating.

| | Comments (0)

January 2016

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Recent Comments

  • Alison Campbell: The fact that sapiens didn't develop their own species of read more
  • Barry Hodge: The logic in the article rests on the assumption that read more
  • Alison Campbell: Hi Steve Apologies for the very late reply; I've been read more
  • Alison Campbell: Aside from wondering why you are commenting on such an read more
  • Alison Campbell: The hydrostatic pressure pulses above the epicenter of a shallow read more
  • Alison Campbell: the human body is a world of rivers and read more
  • Ted Herrlich: Aside from the genetic differences, the original article didn't mention read more
  • dan arnett: hi guys and gals,,im really amazed at the debate ongoing,and read more
  • David Williams: My 50+ years of research shows no connection between mass read more
  • Peter: If tantalising evidence means lousy applying of laws of thermodynamics read more