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Experts Are In Disagreement About The Potential Danger North American Hobo Spiders Pose To Humans

Those who fear spiders may find it hard to believe that their fear is not shared with everyone else on the planet. After all, what is there to like about spiders? Spiders, are multi-eyed, multi-legged, sometimes hairy, fanged and often intimidating despite the expert claim that most spider species are ultimately harmless. Around 5 percent of the population suffers from arachnophobia, and statistically speaking, there exists no rational reason to fear spiders, as data suggests that a mere 100 human deaths occurred as a result of spider bites during the whole of the 20th century. While the majority of dangerous spiders have been well researched by scientists, there does exist some disagreement among experts concerning the potential dangers that hobo spiders pose to humans. Some experts say that past claims concerning this spider’s purported dangerousness to humans has been exaggerated, while others claim that this species, which exists here in the United States, can cause serious medical problems that could result in death in some cases.

The hobo spider is a moderately large arachnid, as they typically grow to be around ¼ to ½ of an inch in length with a leg span of up to 2 full inches. Nobody knows for sure how the hobo spider arrived in North America, but experts believe that it was brought to the Seattle, Washington area from its native Europe at some point during the 1920s or 1930s. Since then, this spider species has spread across the Pacific Northwest. Many sources claim that hobo spiders can inflict bite wounds that can lead to tissue necrosis, but others say that such instances are exceptionally rare. What experts can agree on, however, is the unusually rapid speed in which these spiders can travel. Studies demonstrate the hobo spider as moving at 3 feet per second. So if you encounter the hobo spider and live in the northwest US, you want to be in good physical shape if you hope to avoid its notorious bite.

Have you ever encountered a hobo spider?

 

 

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The Mother Spiders That Produce Milk For Their Offspring

Everyone can remember learning about mammals in preschool and early gradeschool. We were taught that only mammalian animals produce milk for the purposes of nourishing their offspring. While this is not exactly accurate due to the many non-mammalian lifeforms that also produce milk, it was good enough at the age of six. However, many people may be surprised to learn that a spider species has recently been discovered that produces its own nourishing fluid for its suckling spiderlings. This spider species is known as Toxeus magnus, and it is also notable for looking exactly like an ant in order to fool predators.

The Toxeus magnus is a species of jumping spider that is native to southeast Asia. Female spiders of this species produce a fluid containing sugars, fats, and proteins in order to provide their babies with nourishment. The lead researcher investigating this new spider species, biologist Rui-Chang Quan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is referring to this fluid as “milk” for the time being, as such a substance has never been found before. Interestingly, researchers learned that the spiderlings continue feeding on their mother’s milk well into maturity, which is unusual.

While spiders are not known for producing their own milk, a female spider’s parenting behavior is quite similar to mammalian parenting behaviors. Although many spider species are naturally solitary, many female spiders provide extended care for their offspring. For example, some female spiders avoid eating in order to constantly guard their egg cases, and other females will open their egg cases in order to give their spiderlings an occasional ride on their back. Other females even regurgitate food for their young, like birds do, but the recently discovered species of spider developed the ability to produce nourishing milk. Much like mammals, Toxeus magnus spiderlings are entirely dependent on their mother’s milk for survival. The researchers that found this spider species are convinced that many other spider species exist that also produce milk for their young, only they have yet to be discovered.

Do you know of any insect species that produce milk for their offspring?