Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Flying Electric Spiders

That should so be the name of a band, shouldn’t it?  A no-holds-barred garage band whose super-fans throw gigantic fluffy spider toys on stage at gigs (so much more hygienic than knickers).  My sister once had a gigantic fluffy spider toy;  it had pipe-cleaner legs and red teddy-bear eyes on wire stalks, and you could bounce it up and down on the thin elastic attached to its furry black head.  As a child I used it covertly a couple of times by half-hiding it in my bedroom in a bid to scare off the little lady that came once a week to help my mum with the cleaning.   (I’m aware how terribly middle-class that is... Truth being that my mum did struggle to cope, and this was at a time when she was also reliant on another kind of mother’s little helper – the small round one commonly known as Valium).

I was a horrible, naughty child and poor Mrs Sibley in her flowery overall and thick tan tights was the intended victim of my cunning plan.  I was sure that if I carefully secreted the spider in a dusty corner, the unexpected discovery of it would be enough to make her shriek and leave my bedroom in a panic.  The Betta Bilda blocks, my Francie doll and assorted plastic farm animals could then stay strewn on a dirty floor for another week.  ( I tried the same tactic with a rubber snake, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, that’s how much I believed in the power of spiders…

And I still do.  I’m convinced that if real spiders were aware of the fear they are capable of inducing, even in otherwise rational adult humans, they could take over the world.

I also believe that most of the creatures surrounding us are far superior to us in so many ways, they just lack the arrogance and vindictiveness (two purely human traits) to use it against us.   From tiny worms, blind and limbless, being able to detect minute changes in air pressure which means that even underground they can tell when it’s going to rain, to the incredible navigational sense of birds migrating thousands of miles across mountains and oceans to the exact same place each year, these are innate skills we humans can only dream of having.  Then again, worms and birds don’t know how to add a cat face filter to a selfie so we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves...

So here is where flying electric spiders come in.  ‘Spiders Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Using Electricity’ is the sort of headline that makes my ears prick up (without the need for a cat face filter) and to my mind, totally supports the theory of their superiority.  Marvellous, amazing, fantastic spiders - I love them. We know that they are able to travel beyond where their eight little legs can carry them; they've been found two and a half miles up in the sky and 1000 miles out to sea, and recently two researchers at the University of Bristol were able to demonstrate that it was far more than just random wind power that propelled them.  Spiders can actually sense the Earth’s electric field and use it to launch themselves into the air.

These researchers "... put the arachnids on vertical strips of cardboard in the centre of a plastic box, and then generated electric fields between the floor and ceiling of similar strengths to what the spiders would experience outdoors.  These ruffled tiny sensory hairs on the spiders' feet... In response the spiders performed a set of movements called tiptoeing - they stood on the ends of their legs and stuck their abdomens in the air...  Many of the spiders actually managed to take off, despite being in closed boxes with no airflow within them..."   

Now I don't know if this sort of stuff interests you as much as it does me, but you can read the full article here.

All this leads me to think that, one day when we've properly fucked up the planet and each other, leaving behind a world inhabited only by the last surviving creatures of the non-human variety, they will fare very well indeed.  Whereas me - well, Mrs Sibley did still clean my room, and moved my toys, unnerved by a fluffy spider with pipe cleaner legs - I'm merely human.

This gives me a good excuse to post some Australian '80s garage punk in the form of the Lime Spiders too, don't you think?!





18 comments:

  1. Was the toy spider called Ziggy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He should've been. Given their powers there probably are spiders on Mars!

      Delete
  2. You're right, the world will be better off without us. "Arrogance and vindictiveness" are almost solely human traits... though I've known a couple of cats who could also display such behaviour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, now you come to mention it, cats do seem to be the exception...

      Delete
  3. Am finding it hard to believe you were a horrible, naughty child, C.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only at home, Martin, but a right little precocious horror when I couldn't get my own way. I think I grew out of it eventually...

      Delete
  4. Now what a surprise that you found an article about flying spiders interesting?! It is actually, and something I didn't know about before, despite Darwin having worked it out all those years ago. They will fare very well once we've well and truly wiped ourselves out as the biggest threat to every creature on Earth is of course, us.

    I remember those fluffy spiders that hung on elastic. DD had a very realistic rubber one, with its hairy little rubber legs. Over the years I had to be brave and deal with them if they ever appeared in the house so as not to make DD afraid of them, but just something about spiders that still gets to me. They are so fast across the carpet and then disappear, so you just know that during the night they will probably be crawling all over your face & hair. Somehow I don't think you'd mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, I would happily put myself forward as international PR Manager of the Spider Appreciation Society (does such a thing exist, or am I thinking of another SAS?!) But I totally get that thing... I used to be terrified of them, until having no choice but to tolerate the presence of loads of them in a tiny canal boat one night and that experience seemed to conquer my fear. Like an informal phobia therapy really! Now, my fascination for and interest in them just dominates any qualms and when I catch them I subject them to being examined under a magnifying glass... oh, those eight beady eyes make them so lovable! That said, I still wouldn't be too keen on finding one on my face in the middle of the night...

      Delete
  5. ...the bloody things can FLY??????????

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember you said you love insects and this story is proof of your fascination.
    "I was a horrible, naughty child". I'm sure you weren't as bad as that spoiled brat Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris, yes I'm thinking of that brilliant Vampire Weekend video!
      Not quite Veruca Salt but my mum might have disagreed!

      Delete
  7. Am in complete agreement with you regarding the superiority of most, if not all, species of animals when compared to stupid humanity. Good old spiders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi RR - how lovely to see you!
      I look around at human beings in general sometimes and think, "I wouldn't want to be one"....

      Delete
  8. I've never been the same since I saw this as a child: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/2392606024964137/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jez, good to see you here, thanks for dropping by. As for the pic...aargh, I had completely forgotten that (or perhaps subconsciously erased it from my mind?) but thanks for the reminder! Pretty traumatic stuff, that... and absolutely no good for spider PR!

      Delete
  9. Brilliant song. An old favourite of mine. Good choice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good'un, isn't it? And the other side too, their cover of Save My Soul (I have a feeling I/you may have mentioned that before, or perhaps I'm imagining that?) Nice to see you!

      Delete

Please come in, the door is open

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...