Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rurban Legends

(Yes, it's biting me ... no, it doesn't hurt)

My 7th graders, each year, breathlessly tell me, " Mr. FC, did you know the most poisonous animal is the Daddy LongLegs ... only his fangs are too small to penetrate human skin!"

So every year, I ask them why an animal that feeds on a mix of very small critters and detritus would need such a super venom and we work our way to the realization that this is just one more Rurban Legend ... just like "Mr.FC, did you know your blood is really blue inside you and it turns red when it hits the air!" (There's a teacher at the Elementary feeder school across the street that perpetuates this .... arrrghh.)

We work through that one too.

I have heard of a thing called a "ROOMBA" that reportedly cleans floors all by itself. I think that is probably an urban legend, but I do have confirmation on a related Rurban Legend that seems to be true.

Above you see actual photographs of the legendary "TREEMBA" in the act of sweeping the forest floor.
Myth no more.
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vicki said...

We used to call them "harvester spiders"- not sure why, but I never heard that they were poisonous. In fact, although spiders are generally the one thing I'm not nuts about, these guys never worried me because my father would always say, "Oh! Just a harvester. Nothing to be afraid of." Are you telling me now they DO bite?

At the zoo we have golden orb spiders on display with no barriers- it's like the thrill exhibit of the zoo- but they never leave their webs, where they are well fed by keepers. Still, I always count them before I turn my back and start telling the public about them. I also don't hold the tarantula for "Animal of the Hour."
Pythons, yes. I draw the line at the tarantula.

Your treeba seems to be highly effective in a very limited area. I've decided those oak leaves make good mulch in my yard.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

Quick FC, apply for patent protection for your Treemba and sell it in the Sharper Image catalogue!

roger said...

we have a wind powered yard sweeper called pampas grass. very effective, but also very limited in range.

nice spider. nice way to demonstrate its danger. do you ever fall to the floor in (feigned) agony, clutching at your heart, or maybe your throat? maybe the kids already know how to do bad comedy.

robin andrea said...

What? Blood isn't blue in our bodies? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. That was one legend I believed when I was young and impressionable. I never believed that daddy longlegs were harmful, though. Nice presentation. How do you get the students to understand that blood isn't blue?

Alan said...

Not too many bluebloods around here though I am told they're more common down to Palm Beach. They're not native though being a migratory species that only over winters here, but reproduces up in the Northeast some place.


rcwbiologist said...

My favorite rurban legend lived only a county over from where I first started working. I thought I might even find the lizard man in Wood's Bay, but to no avail.

threecollie said...

Spooky looking sweeper there! I have been regaled for years with stories of the danger of daddy long legs. Now I can refute with great authority. Thanks

kathy a said...

hmm, maybe i don't get out much, but i never heard of daddy long-legs being poisonous. and it is a good thing, too, because we have a house that is particularly spider-friendly for these parts, and i'm a lazy housekeeper, so we live and let live until the spiderwebs in the rafters become too unsightly.

seriously, i was told the only spiders to worry about [in terms of health] are black widows and brown recluses.

we even adopted a tarantula, harriet the spider, who did 9 years of classroom duty and spent many a vacation at home. harriet was an elementary school superstar! ["EEEWWW!" is an extreme complement, to a classroom pet of the non-cute variety.]

we didn't let kids hold her, because if they dropped her it would Not Be a Good Thing for harriet. but classroom duties included letting a special child feed her crickets, or refill her sponge. [unfortunately, tarantulas are not good with bodies of water, so their water dish needs to be shallow and hold a sponge.]

Roomba Master said...

I've heard that rurlegend about daddy longlegs and their extremely poisonous venom and small jaws. Thanks for clearing that up!

Floridacracker said...

Harvestman is another common name, but I never hear anyone use it. Not really a spider, but a cousin.
I don't hold spiders either.
The Treemba is rather limited ... we are aware of the problem and are working on that.

I'm off to Legalzoom right now!

trust me, my students are experts at bad comedy.

I describe the blood in the tube when I donate blood. Only the first blood out would have contacted air so the rest should be blue according to their theory. We talk about how in books, blue and red are used to show the difference in arteries and veins.
We get there.

I think blueblood is mandatory in West Palm Beach.

Keep looking you never know ...

Apparently there IS a real spider who carries the same common name so that one may have some venom, but I doubt it is any worse than other spider venoms.

Kathy A,
More power to you if you can hold a tarantula. I have never and plan to keep it that way.

I think the spider of the same name confuses the issue.
This harvestman was gently pinching me, but no pain or necrosis resulted.

Rurality said...

Love the treemba! I'd heard those others and of course believed them all... though that's not why I don't let those long-legged creatures crawl on me like everybody else does. (I think it's really due to that old Johnny Quest cartoon.)

Anyway, since I haven't visited lately, I also wanted to wish you a happy 2nd, and say WOW to the Pil pics. :)

Floridacracker said...

That one-eyed black Johnny Quest spidery thing freaked me out when I was a kid. I LOVED THAT SHOW!! I wante to be Reese.

Wayne said...

By the way, I have occasionally been bitten by wolf spiders that I inadvertently grabbed while weeding. It's as you say, a rather hard, but not sharp or penetrating, pinch. And no necrosis there either. Startling though.

As always, I apologize when this happens.

Floridacracker said...

I say it again, you are a good sport. Ever go out at night with a flashlight and shine wolf spiders in the grass?

Rurality said...

Ha! We have done that! My husband taught it to me - I'd never heard of it when I was growing up.

That used to be my favorite show. I always wanted to be Hadji! He could charm snakes, you know.

Floridacracker said...

Hadji was pretty cool, calm, and collected.

scott said...

I was reading the March 5, 2007 New Yorker yesterday an article by Burkhard Bilger about Greta Binford, a professor of biology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, who specializes in venomous spiders. I quote Bilger:”…..webbing caught at our faces. Most of it belonged to pholcids, or daddy longlegs, Binford assured me. Their venom is strong enough to kill a mouse, and they prey on other spiders, but their fangs are too small to hurt us.”

Certainly not the most deadly, but perhaps some reality here.