Monday, 17 March 2014

The spider man and his toothbrush.

You need guile to fool a spider!
Ecologists are nothing if not imaginative, using guile and stealth to enable them to study their given subject. Take for example Arachnologists, those folk who scientifically study spiders; they appear to be able to think well “out of the box”!!

Luring web-building spiders out of their lairs in order to identify and study them has never been an exact science; too much of a vibration on the cobweb in an attempt to imitate a struggling fly and the crafty spider will not be fooled. Too little on the other hand, might not even wake the beast from its slumbers! No, it has to be just right – a fly-weight of pressure to be precise.

In the past a favoured, cunning ploy was to use a tuning fork, tapped and then placed gently onto the web. The only problem with this is that it has to be “re-tapped” all the time, so fell a little short of ideal. Then one day a clever spider-man called Greg Hitchcock was cleaning his teeth with an electric toothbrush, when he had one of those “ping” moments. His toothbrush...... vibrated! What is more, he could charge it up and take it out into the countryside with him, as easy as saying “incey wincey spider”!

So off he went to the local British Arachnological Society walk in Devon, that he just happened to be leading, armed with his brand new precision tool tucked away in his breast pocket. Before long the assembled spider enthusiasts came across a large web, whereupon to everyone’s surprise Greg produced his whirring electric toothbrush and applied it to the web to produce a prolonged vibration, as only a true professional could. Almost immediately a large Amaurobius (a big variety!) spider came hurtling out from its lacy silken tunnel and pounced onto the vibrating brush, attacking it with real aggression! Unbelievably, it set about the brush with such fervour that it returned to its corner, probably in a rather disgruntled state, with a severed bristle in its jaws!   

So, should you happen across a chap wandering through the countryside with no luggage save a toothbrush in his top pocket, think twice before writing him off as a tramp, as he may well be an extremely distinguished Arachnologist!!

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