Monday Miscellany

An Unexpected House Guest

When I got home from work Friday, I was greeted by a Praying Mantis; not in the yard, or on the patio, but inside the house, just sitting on the table like he belonged there. After having a short conversation (“what do you think you’re doing in here?”) & nudging him onto my hand, I was able to safely move him outside and snap this picture:

Man, I need a new camera with a better macro setting!


Barbeque on the River

On Saturday, we spent some time in Paducah, Kentucky at their annual BBQ competition. My wife and I are self-proclaimed BBQ snobs, and frankly none of the pork we tried quite lived up to our expectations. Not that it was all that bad. We were just expecting better, being a fairly respected regional BBQ competition. Maybe we expect too much.

The real fun happened spontaneously though. As we sat on the steps of the levy eating our que, a small group of people pulled up in a van, quickly set up speakers and a small sound system, and suddenly started to DANCE. They just looked like regular home-town people with taps on their shoes and they danced a sort of 2-step, electric slide, riverdance hybrid; clicking and clacking on the concrete banks of the Ohio River. I searched the entertainment itinerary and saw absolutely nothing that sounded like what we were watching. Which only leads us to one possible conclusion; we witnessed another incarnation of Spike Jonze’s guerilla dance troupe, the Torrance Community Dance Group. That’s right – we got PUNK’D! I laughed out loud and promptly took an elbow to the side, “hush, you might offend someone!” To which, “they’re offending me right now” was not an acceptable answer, just in case you were wondering.


Paul Newman 1925-2008

Most of us try to be charitable people. And usually that manifests itself in fairly small ways according to our means. Paul Newman’s philanthropic contribution to our world should be an inspiration to us all. It is probably one of the aspects of his career that I admire and respect the most. He will be missed by more than just fans of his movies, but by all of those who have benefitted from his charities. His legacy will live on.

As far as his movies go though, here lies a fundamental difference between me and my wife. Her favorite is The Long Hot Summer because according to her, he was sexy before people said “sexy”. Mine on the other hand is his portrayal of the deadpan businessman Mr. Mussburger in the Coen Brothers holiday classic the Hudsucker Proxy;

Orb Weaver: I believe you can get me through the night

Last night, sometime after midnight, I went to carry some boxes out the back door and around the back of the house. But when I made the turn towards the garage I nearly walked into this:

You can’t really tell it from the poor picture quality, but the web was taller than I am and wider than my outstretched arms. It was perfect and beautiful. And the critter that built it has to be one of the largest spiders of its kind that I have ever seen in this area. It’s nearly two inches across. Even a spider nut like me couldn’t help but be impressed! She’s an absolutely gorgeous specimen of a Neoscona crucifera, also known as an “Arboreal Orb Weaver”. I wish I could’ve gotten a better picture.

I think I will call her “Bonita”!

Family Photos

Earlier this month my brother requested that I post some portraits of my bugs to my blog. Being one who doesn’t like to disappoint, here they are. Please excuse the sub-par photography.


Elvis is a Chilean Rosehair tarantula (Grammostola rosea). He is by far the most docile and gentle spider I’ve had in a long time. You can’t tell very well from the picture, but Roshairs have exactly that, rose or pink colored hair. Thier bodies are mostly brown, but the long hairs that stick out, especially on thier cepholathorax and legs are pink. They can be best seen right after molting and in a good lighting, neither of which were ture at the time of these pictures. Rosies are probably the most commonly sold spiders in pet stores across America. They’re quite easy to come by and are usually very well tempered. They make an excellent starter spider for anyone who’s looking to get into the hobby. My first T. was a Rosehair named “Precious”. Elvis spends most of his time in my wife’s Kindergarten classroom, but during the summer he resides on my computer desk. Soon after “Priscilla” passed away, who was another Rosie but slightly bigger and much more brightly colored than Elvis, we acquired this lovely lady…


Hillary is an Arkansas Chocolate tarantula (Aphonopelma baergi). These are the only tarantulas native to Arkansas. And this one was caught live for us by my wife’s coworker’s son. He moved to Arkansas a few years ago and went “rock-flipping” just to see what he could find. In addition to Hillary and a few other Chocolates, he found a few small scary-looking scorpions. (I think I would’ve just let them stay under the rock personally.) Even though she’s fairly small & lacking in color – I think she’s a very pretty spider. She is fairly skiddish though, so not disturbing her to get this picture was a challenge. Speaking of shiddish…


Hermosa (which is spanish for ‘beautiful’) is a Costa Rican Tigerrump tarantula (Cyclosternum fasciatum). Hermie is by far the smallest and most reclusive spider I have ever had – so getting her picture was even more challenging than Hillary! I eventually had to feed her & then snap these shots down through the entrance to her hiding place. If you look closely you can see the cricket in her clutches sticking out from under her body.

I guess it’s pretty obvious how the “Tigerrump” gets her name; It’s cepholathorax is solid bright orangish-red and it’s abdomen has those pretty tiger stripes as you can see in the picture above.

Well that’s it. Those are my current arachnids.
Hope I didn’t creep everyone out too much.

A Few Deaths in the Family (+1 Birth)

Over the last few months two of my favorite pets have passed away. Before you get too mushy, they were both tarantulas. A Brazilian whiteknee (Acanthoscurria geniculata) named Sweetheart & an Antilles pinktoe (Avicularia versicolor) named Baby (nobody puts her in a corner!) I still have 2 spiders that spend the school year in my wife’s classroom; a Chilean rose (Grammostola rosea) named Elvis (Priscilla died last summer too) and an Arkansas chocolate (Aphonopelma baergi) named Hillary.

Not actually mine, just an example of an adult TigerRump I found on GoogleAs a result, my wife very generously bought me a new one, so that the ArachNerd wouldn’t be spiderless at home! It is a juvenile Costa Rican tigerrump (Cyclosternum fasciatum) that is so far nameless. Which is where you come in. I need name suggestions!

As you can tell, my names are anything but conventional. My very first T, a birthday gift when I was in college, was a Chilean rose named Precious. My second was a Zebra Knee (Aphonopelma seemani) named Anastasia. Unfortunately, because of the shoddy housing that I devised for them, Precious ate Anastasia for a mid-day snack.

So, what do you think? What would be a good name for my new pet?