Thursday, June 29, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Grasshoppers

These REALLLY leggy bugs are great jumpers. As if having spectacular jumping legs weren’t enough for grasshoppers for locomotion, they even have wings to fly with. Visit a-z animals ”Grasshopper” website for basic information and images.
about 2 inches long although larger grasshoppers are found on a fairly regular basis that grow to more than 5 inches in length … all species of grasshopper have a three-part body … head … thorax … abdomen … six legs, two pairs of wings, and two antennae.

Grasshoppers have six jointed legs that are incredibly powerful for such a small creature, as grasshoppers are able to jump extraordinary distances. The two back legs of the grasshopper are long and powerful and are just for jumping, where the four front legs of the grasshopper are primarily used to hold onto prey and to help it to walk.
Grasshopper Anatomy” has overall descriptions, images, and additional information about body parts. The site is succinct about the grasshopper legs’ purposes.
The biggest Grasshoppers are about 4.5 inches (11.5 centimetres) long. Their legs are long hind legs that are used for hopping and jumping. The short front legs are used to hold prey and to walk.
"Grasshopper World, up-close and personal" is interesting for closeup views that include color effects and music. No narration and scant text, but the description area is reasonably informative.

Arthropod Morphology Parts of an Insect (Grasshopper)” shows a grasshopper diagram with body part identifiers and glossary. A complementary resource is Quizlet’s “Grasshopper” website.

"Grasshopper Facts for Kids" is a YouTube slide show with text and images. Information about jumping distances and mechanics of jumping run from about 1:50 to 2:30.

Two Websites that Emphasize Grasshopper Jumps

These two websites explain the structure of grasshopper hind legs and mechanics of jumping capability.

From “How the [Grasshopper] Legs Work”—
The thick part at the top of the leg (femur) contains the muscles which make the thinner lower part (tibia) move. The foot at the end of the leg has sharp claws, which give the grasshopper a good grip so that its foot doesn't skid when it pushes on the ground as it jumps.
From “Basic Requirements” (for good grasshopper jump)—
First, the legs have to thrust on the ground with a lot of force.
If the thrust is too low, the animal doesn't get a fast enough take-off and it doesn't jump very far.

Second, the legs have to develop this force quickly.
If the thrust builds up too slowly, the legs will extend before the thrust reaches its maximum. Once the grasshopper is standing on tip-toe, it can't thrust against the ground any more.
Two Grasshopper-featured Stories

Grasshoppers are in a couple of notable stories—both also involving ants. One story is an Aesop fable. More recent is A Bug’s Life (1998). A YouTube video is a movie excerpt featuring a tribe of grasshoppers discussing ants.

Wider View of Jumper Insects

The focus for this article has been strictly grasshoppers WRT leggy bugs. Other jumping insects are also significant. The Orthoptera order includes grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids. Grasshoppers are in the Caelifera suborder. What about locusts, you might wonder. They belong to the Acrididae family.

Difference Between Locust and Grasshopper” provides contrasts and comparisons. The most significant clarification is "The locust is a type of a grasshopper which is short horned. The grasshopper is not a type of a locust.” Visit the DifferenceBetween website for fuller explanations about these two very similar-looking insects.

What about grasshoppers and crickets? Loads of websites contrast these leggy bugs. Amateur Entomologists’ Society’s “Grasshoppers and Crickets (Order: Orthoptera)” has a good contrast list, example pictures, a distinguishing-features section, and subfamily information.

What about grasshoppers and katydids? Wannabe Entomologist’s “Grasshopper or Katydid?” has good explanations of these bugs’ features and a couple of eye-popping pics of someone handling each.

An entertaining website is “’The bug-investigation’ – Locust, grasshopper, cricket or katydid?”. The article is written as though investigating suspects in a crime. It has sections for pictures, ID cards, commonalities, clues, and conclusion.

Leggy Bugs articles:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Leggy Bugs--Huntsman Spiders

Inspiration for a leggy bugs article about spiders came in when I spotted a news item about a very large spider found in a toddler's room (in Michigan). Visit "Mother calls experts after giant spider found in toddler's room".

In the accompanying video, a pet store worker said that it was "a mature male heteropoda venatoria … Australian huntsman spider … one of the largest spiders in the world". The clip segued to a quarter and the dead spider for size comparison. Taking a screenshot, then duplicating adjacent images of the coin, I concluded that the spider spanned almost 4 1/2 inches, about four and a half coin diameters.

In researching more about the incident and huntsman spiders, I found that their leg lengths, rather than body sizes, make up a large part of their span sizes. I'd run across "heteropoda venatoria" and "heteropoda maxima" in numerous websites, often not both on same websites. More on the taxonomy terminology farther down.

General Huntsman Spider Information

Numerous websites separately addressed huntsmen spiders as being “heteropoda venatoria” or “heteropoda maxima”. A website that shows hierarchy is Encyclopedia of Life's “Heteropoda venatoria Domestic Huntsman Spider” classifications.
  • From “Heteropoda venatoria Domestic Huntsman Spider” overview:
    commonly called the brown huntsman spider…. They are fairly large, some having a leg span of approximately five inches (13 centimetres). … Brown huntsman spiders do not spin webs. These spiders are known to hunt by waiting quietly on a vertical surface (or even a ceiling) and then rushing forward when their prey gets within close range.
  • From “Heteropoda maxima Giant Huntsman” overview:
    Winning the title of largest spider by its legs, the Giant Huntsman is twelve inches (30 cm) in diameter, the size of a dinner plate, and was discovered in Laos in 2001. This arachnid does not build a web. Stealthy and quick, it prefers to hunt for its prey and has been seen eating insects and small rodents.
"Huntsman Spiders: Low Risk • Non-Aggressive"
Fuma Pest, an Australian pest control includes an interesting tidbit—“the first 2 pairs of legs are longer than rear two”.

"Giant Spider! World's Biggest Spider Giant Huntsman Spider"
This video has good basic information about size, leg joints that contrast with tarantulas, speed, recommendations regarding disposal, and habitat. Although not mentioned in the video, that it mentions Laos and "giant" MIGHT mean the spider is "maxima" rather than merely "venatoria".


From Latdict Latin Dictionary & Grammar Resources for "maxima"—
definition of maximus, maxima, maximum are as follows:
  highest, utmost
  leading, chief
"Biggest" and "largest" descriptors seem appropriate for these spiders.
Some rudimentary information from RedOrbit's website “Giant Huntsman Spider”:
This is the largest spider of the genus Heteropoda. It is also the largest spider in the family Sparassidae. It has a body-length of 1.8 inches and a leg-span of 12 inches. The scientific name maxima, is derived from maximus, meaning “the largest … the legs are long compared to the body, and twist forward in a crab-like style".
LiveScience's website "Giant Huntsman Spider: World's Largest Spider By Leg Span" includes content very similar to the YouTube video "Giant Spider! World's Biggest Spider Giant Huntsman Spider".
The average huntsman spider species is about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long with a leg span of up to 5 inches (12.7 cm). The giant huntsman spider, however, has a leg span of up to 12 inches (30 cm), making it the largest spider by diameter; it is often described as being "the size of a dinner plate".

Because of their size, huntsman spiders are sometimes incorrectly identified as tarantulas. One way to tell a huntsman from a tarantula is by the position of the creature's legs. … Huntsman spiders' legs have twisted joints, which allow the appendages to extend forward like a crab's. Their alignment allows them to move side-to-side, further explaining the crab nickname.
Out of curiosity about the spider's size, I took a screenshot of the penny near spider, then duplicated adjacent images of the penny. I concluded that the spider spanned almost 3 3/4 inches, about five penny diameters.


From Latdict Latin Dictionary & Grammar Resources for "venatoria"—
definition of venatorius, venatoria, and venatorium is "of a hunter".

My usual go-to website, BugGuide, has a page for "Species Heteropoda venatoria - Huntsman Spider", but none for maxima. Compared to maxima size references, venatoria spiders look to be smaller.
Body length of adults ranges from 22-28 millimeters [.87 to 1.10"]. The long legs add considerable size; leg spans can reach 3-5 inches.
The Animal Corner website "Huntsman Spider Characteristics" mentions venatoria. The size reference is more generous than BugGuide's—"large, long-legged spiders, measuring up to 15 centimetres [almost 6"] across the legs". Additional information:
found in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, Florida and Hawaii and possibly in many other tropical and semi-tropical regions. Adult Huntsman spiders do not build webs, however, they hunt and forage for food.
Additional Links Featuring Huntsman Spiders
  • "How to handle a Huntsman Spider - by Brennan Hatton"
    This video shows gutsy huntsman spider handler, imo. Cringeworthy, perhaps, if you wince at arachnid touchy-feelies.
  • The Spider Named After David Bowie (And It's From Malaysia, Not Mars)
    The spider, part of the tropical genus Heteropoda more commonly called the huntsman spider, has bright orange hairs on its red-brown body and legs, and sports vibrant red markings on its underside.
  • "Terrifying moment a pest controller finds huge huntsman spider and hundreds of her babies in Australia"
    This article is another Australian huntsman spider story, with a link to an artful 21-second video.
  • "Giant Banded Huntsman Spider Vs Jungle Huntsman Spider | MONSTER BUG WARS"
    Two huntsmen spiders battle to be predator winner. This fascinating video incorporates live footage, narration, and graphics simulation to explain these spiders' physical characteristics, speed, and battle capabilities against each other.
  • "12 World's Largest Spiders"
    This slide show of spiders includes narration and introductory captions. Two of the featured spiders are huntsman spiders.
  • "11 BIGGEST Spiders"
    The video's expandable description includes the transcript of the narration. The video owner lists Heteropoda maxima, a huntsman spider, as #4 for size.
  • "10 of the World’s Largest Spiders"
    This website presents static information and images in countdown from 10 to 1 “starting from the smallest of the largest, all the way to the winning monster-sized, biggest spider in the world”. The huntsman spider comes in at #2 for size.
  • "Most AMAZING Spiders In The World!"
    These spiders are truly amazing for looks and characteristics. Has some specimen overlap with "11 BIGGEST Spiders". An identifying caption spans each spider's clip. The segment about the cartwheeling spider, a huntsman spider, also shows a robot based on its movement.
  • Cartwheeling Spider Found, Inspires New Robot
    This article provides information about the cartwheeling huntsman spider, also informally referred to as the flic-flac spider.
  • "18 Creepy Facts about Arachnophobia"
    This website includes information about the search for the spider to be the star attraction in Arachnophobia. Woohoo! A huntsman spider won!
  • To find the right arachnids for the job, Marshall and his team evaluated a number of species—including wolf spiders, tarantulas, and huntsman spiders—by putting them through a “spider olympics,” running each species through 10 tests, including speed (the faster the spider, the scarier it is), climbing ability, and reaction to heat and cold. The “gold medalist,” according to Marshall, was the three-inch-wide Delena spider, a harmless but sinister-looking huntsman native to Australia that was introduced to New Zealand in the 1920s.
A Couple of Non-huntsman Spider Links
  • 10 Creepiest Spiders in Movies
    This website provides instances of spiders (mostly tarantulas) in movies, accompanied by video clips, excluding for Home Alone.
  • GIANT SPIDER Movie Montage
    The video's description attributes music scores and video clips. Eye-popping! No kidding about "GIANT".

Leggy Bugs articles:
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