February 14, 2009
Dancing White Lady Spider (AKA Golden Wheel Spider)
Of the family Huntsman, the Dancing White Lady Spider, also known as the Carthwheeling Spider or Golden Wheel Spider, has an bizarre but ingenious method of escaping an enemy’s attack. Clips of the beastie’s visionary evasions grow ever more popular on YouTube and rumours abound that they're even the subject of internet bloggery. A probable fact is that if you were to place a number of thoroughly modern young gentlemen and ladyfolk in a room together for a while with a few shandies and a few whatevers then it would surely be only a matter of time before one of them introduces another to the video on his phone.
They don’t spin webs, you see, Dancing White Lady Spiders. Instead they silk-line the insides of little tunnels they dig in the sand dunes upon which they live. They generally use the tunnels to escape all potential foes. However it is at the very beginning of the construction of a tunnel that they are vulnerable to deadly attack, as there’s an awful lot of digging with your face in the sand to undertake. Thus your assailant has a nice big target to aim for: your unassuming bottom. Which is not such good news when you share a sand dune with a pompilid wasp (otherwise worryingly referred to as a ‘spider wasp’).
They’re aim is to sting you, and if you happen to be a spider, say, a Dancing White Lady Spider, then they will completely paralyse you with their sting. They then lay their eggs inside you and they slowly incubate within your body while you lie there, wondering why the hell you didn’t just find a dark little corner somewhere and catch an occasional fly.
Oh yes, and then the babies hatch and eat you because you are still alive because you’re a spider and can survive on a single cricket every summer. But those babies can’t survive on one cricket per summer. No, they survive on you. Then they grow up and do the same thing to your mates.
Living with such terror every day would be enough to drive a human being insane, so it’s a good thing that we, as a species, are not a spider. Particularly a Dancing White Lady Spider. This particular sand-coloured critter has no time for insanity.
Instead of becoming deranged with lunacy, the perilous spider will jink onto its side, arching its legs outwards as it does so to form what will become a dazzling wheel spinning down the dune at up to 44 turns per second. Human beings, for all our computers, space travel and prime-time TV shows starring Piers Morgan, cannot even turn fully once over the entirety of a whole second. So my own in-depth analysis and investigatory experiments report, though it is difficult to be entirely certain of the accuracy of my findings as I did drop the stopwatch both times before the twinge.
Really, spider wasps are exceptionally sick individuals. But every great fight must have a goodie and a baddie to make the battle more interesting. I’m sure if you’re a spiderist and you really love them then you would likely cheer them on in every battle they have, but it’s a new experience for most folk to find themselves egging on the spider (don’t you dare pardon that pun). It is one of nature’s great natural rivalries come alive before our very own YouTube pages.
Besides, here’s a spider that has clearly realised that they give us the heebie-jeebies. Have they stuck around to fall from drawn curtains or make mad dashes across the living room floor when you’re trying to watch telly? No. Have they descended into our baths and then discovered them to be rather more slippery than they first envisaged? No again. They have very politely taken themselves off to live on sand in a baking desert where they’ll probably get eaten alive by giant wasp babies.
What have wasps ever done for us? They don’t even make anything. They’re like layabout bees who can’t be bothered to get proper jobs and so just hang around the streets causing trouble. And now they are picking on the one bloody spider to do us all a favour.
That wasp is extremely lucky that we, the human damn race, are not all catching EasyJets out there to duff its bloody head in. We would, wouldn’t we, folk? But you know, we hear that there’s a lot of crazy spiders out there hiding in the sand.