AAS 2021 Virtual Meeting: an invitation to all arachnophiles!

The American Arachnological Society is hosting a Virtual Conference Thursday June 24 – Thursday July 1. A keynote talk by Maydianne Andrade will open the meeting on the evening of the 24th. Program highlights include plenary talks by Mercedes Burns, Lauren Esposito, and Ivan Magalhães; oral and poster presentations; and a panel discussion and workshop on actions to dismantle racism and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in arachnology. All arachnologists and arachnid enthusiasts are invited,…

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The great black widow race: how males use the silk road to find females faster

I am very excited to share the publication of a new paper coauthored with Sean McCann and my supervisor Maydianne Andrade in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The full paper can be found here (please email me or contact me on twitter if you don’t have access and would like a pdf copy). Before I summarize the study below, I would like to first thank the Tsawout First Nation for allowing me…

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Science Borealis: vote for your favourite Canadian science blog!

I am honoured and a bit embarrassed to announce that SpiderBytes is in the running for the Science Borealis People’s Choice Award for “Canada’s Favourite Science Blog.” Honoured, because I am proud to be part of the Science Borealis network of Canadian science blogs! And embarrassed, because I have posted exactly two things here in the last year. In my defence, I have been in the thick of pursuing a PhD, but I will take this as a…

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Spider sex and silk: From mating threads and bridal veils to nuptial gifts and silk-lined chambers

I am very pleased to announce the publication of a review paper in the Journal of Arachnology (check out the full pdf here) about the fascinating uses of silk during spider sexual interactions coauthored with Alissa Anderson and my supervisor Maydianne Andrade. This paper has been several years in the making, and some of my very first blog posts were based on the research I did when I first started writing it back in 2013…

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Announcing a new project: Recluse or Not?

This is just a quick announcement about a new citizen science and education project called Recluse or Not? A recluse spider (Loxosceles arizonica). Photo: Sean McCann. Recluse or Not? is a collaboration with North Carolina entomologists Eleanor Spicer Rice (Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Spiders) and Matt Bertone that you can read all about on the project page here! Briefly, it is a way for citizens to contribute data about where in North America recluse spiders (genus Loxosceles) occur, and to quickly…

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Crowdfunding black widow research

For the past six months, Sean and I have been spending most of our nights observing black widows in their natural habitat on Vancouver Island, BC. We did a couple of short experiments during our time in the field, but the vast majority of our work involved simply observing the spiders as they went about their business. The goal was to get a better understanding of the natural behaviour and mating dynamics of this population.…

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Spider Week on pause

You may have noticed that Spider Week has lost some steam here and on twitter. It was a fun idea that came at a time when I probably should have realized I already had a bit too much on my plate. Then more things got piled on, and I started to get sick. For now, spider week is on pause, but please expect posts on the remaining five spiders sometime soon! False widows in the genus…

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Fishing spiders (family Pisauridae)

Today’s featured spiders for Spider Week are the fishing spiders (also known as raft spiders) in the genus Dolomedes. I suspect the reason they are so often mistaken for brown recluse spiders is that they are (a) brown, and (b) often very large. Brown recluse spiders aren’t particularly large, but folks seem to (erroneously) associate size with danger when it comes to spiders. A large female Dolomedes tenebrosus from southern Ontario. Photo: Sean McCann, used with permission.…

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Yellow sac spiders (family Eutichuridae)

The first spider of spider week, squeezing into the 7th-most-likely-to-be-misidentified-as-a-brown-recluse spot (despite not even being brown), is the yellow sac spider. This common name may be used to refer to multiple similar-looking species in the genus Cheiracanthium (family Eutichuridae). Cheiracanthium inclusum (female). Photo: Joe Lapp (also known as Spider Joe), used with permission. In North America we have two species: Cheiracanthium inclusum (a native species) and  C. mildei (introduced from Europe). Other names for yellow sac spiders include black-footed…

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Announcing Spider Week

Starting tomorrow, Shark Week begins on the Discovery Channel. If you prefer spiders to sharks (which, of course you do, right?!) and facts to fearmongering, here at Spider Bytes and on twitter we’ll be celebrating #SpiderWeek! Here’s the plan: starting tomorrow (Sunday June 19), each day will feature a different spider family. These seven families will be chosen from among the most-misidentified spiders on twitter, based on the data I collected last year from my first several months…

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