Front page
Silflay Hraka?

Bigwig is a systems administrator at a public university
Hrairoo is the proprietor of a quality used bookstore
Kehaar is the head web developer for a regional newspaper
Woundwort is a professor of counseling at a private university

The Hraka RSS feed

bigwig AT

Friends of Hraka
Daily Pundit
cut on the bias
Meryl Yourish
This Blog Is Full Of Crap
Winds of Change
A Small Victory
Silent Running
Dr. Weevil
Little Green Footballs
Fragments from Floyd
The Feces Flinging Monkey
Dean's World
Little Tiny Lies
The Redsugar Muse
Natalie Solent
From the Mrs.
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
Public Nuisance
Not a Fish
Electric Venom
Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo
Common Sense and Wonder
Neither Here Nor There
The Greatest Jeneration
Ipse Dixit
Blog On the Run
Redwood Dragon
Greeblie Blog
Have A Cuppa Tea
A Dog's Life
Iberian Notes
Midwest Conservative Journal
A Voyage to Arcturus
Trojan Horseshoes
In Context
The People's Republic of Seabrook
Country Store
Blog Critics
Chicago Boyz
Hippy Hill News
Kyle Still Free Press
The Devil's Excrement
The Fat Guy
War Liberal
Assume the Position
Balloon Juice
Iron Pen In A Velvet Glove
Freedom Lives
Where Worlds Collide
Knot by Numbers
How Appealing
South Knox Bubba
Heretical Ideas
The Kitchen Cabinet
Bo Cowgill
Raving Atheist
The Short Strange Trip
Shark Blog
Ron Bailey's Weblog
Cornfield Commentary
Northwest Notes
The Blog from the Core
The Talking Dog
WTF Is It Now??
Blue Streak
Smarter Harper's Index
nikita demosthenes
Bloviating Inanities
Sneakeasy's Joint
Ravenwood's Universe
The Eleven Day Empire
World Wide Rant
All American
The Rant
The Johnny Bacardi Show
The Head Heeb
Viking Pundit
Oscar Jr. Was Here
Just Some Poor Schmuck
Katy & Bruce Loebrich
But How's The Coffee?
Roscoe Ellis
Sasha Castel
Susskins Central Dispatch
Josh Heit
Aaron's Rantblog
As I was saying...
Blog O' Dob
Dr. Frank's Blogs Of War
Betsy's Page
A Knob for Brightness
Fresh Bilge
The Politburo Diktat
Drumwaster's rants
Curt's Page
The Razor
An Unsealed Room
The Legal Bean
Helloooo chapter two!
As I Was Saying...
SkeptiLog AGOG!
Tong family blog
Vox Beth
I was thinking
Judicious Asininity
This Woman's Work
Fragrant Lotus
Single Southern Guy
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Snooze Button Dreams
You Big Mouth, You!
From the Inside looking Out
Night of the Lepus
No Watermelons Allowed
From The Inside Looking Out
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Suburban Blight
The SmarterCop
Dog of Flanders
From Behind the Wall of Sleep
Beaker's Corner
Bad State of Gruntledness
Who Tends The Fires
Granny Rant
Elegance Against Ignorance
Say What?
Blown Fuse
Wait 'til Next Year
The Pryhills
The Whomping Willow
The National Debate
The Skeptician
Zach Everson
Geekward Ho
Life in New Orleans
Rotten Miracles
The Biomes Blog
See What You Share
Blog d’Elisson
Your Philosophy Sucks
Watauga Rambler
Socialized Medicine
Verging on Pertinence
Read My Lips
The Flannel Avenger
Butch Howard's WebLog
Castle Argghhh!
Andrew Hofer
Moron Abroad
White Pebble
Darn Floor
Pajama Pundits
Goddess Training 101
A & W

October 27, 2004

Adventures In Journalism: Slipping on the Banana Spider

For a while there it seemed as if I could count on someone in the MSM screwing up a nature story every other week or so. Then, once I started paying attention, the egregiously misidentified species stories started to dry up.

And people say the mainstream media doesn't pay attention to bloggers. I was all ready to bid a fond farewell to the natural sciences portion of the Adventures in Journalism series, but thankfully the Associated Press--obviously mistaking my recent angling sabbatical as an early retirement--decided to return to its earlier habits yesterday morning.

A banana spider's web, saturated by a morning dew, is highlighted by the sun in the Apalachicola National Forest, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2004, in Sopchoppy, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

I'll give the AP this--there is a slight possibility that the web in question is that of a banana spider--but the critter in the middle of it, though an orb weaver, is not a banana spider.

One would think that even for the AP Occam's Razor demands that, should one come upon an orb-weaving spider sitting in an orb-weaving spider's web, one would assume that the spider in one's view spun the web it happens to be sitting on, and not go haring off on the wild assumption that the web in question was built by some other species of--now conveniently vanished--arachnid, but one would be wrong, it seems.*

Which orb weaver actually does appear above is a matter I will leave for later, as Hraka's refined and discerning audience practically demands that posts of this....nature [heh...ed] end with some sort of thrilling conclusion, and I feel that actually identifying the species above serves that purpose nicely.

It's a thrill a minute around here, isn't it?

To return, however briefly, to the subject at hand; Here's a good picture of a banana spider, which as the AP blurb asserts are indeed found in Florida. Pay close attention to the abdomen. Hell, pay sloppy attention to the abdomen. It's not like you need a microscope. For those of you not current on your spider nomenclature, the "abdomen" is the part of the body furthest from the "dripping fangs of deadly poison."

The abdomen of a banana spider is yellowish and elongated, hence the name "banana spider."

"Duh," as Fabre himself might say. Now cast your gaze once again at the spider in the AP photo. The abdomen of that spider is not yellowish and elongated. The abdomen of that spider is....brownish and round.

Perhaps it's a Turd Spider! Sadly, there is no such thing as a Turd Spider, so it is impossible even for the AP to identify it as one.

Or so one would hope.

There is a clue as what species of spider actually does appear above. Note the red legs--which for the most part would also prevent the careful (non-AP) observer from classifying it as Nephila clavipes.

Now, if there was just a red-legged orb weaver found in Florida, we could lay question of identity to rest....hey, looky here!

For those who'd like a closer look at the Neoscona species--perhaps in the (surely) vain hope of challenging my identification--here's another lovely view of one.

It's nice to be back.

*The true blue Hraka adrenalin addicts out there may wish to "take it to a higher level," and diagram the sentence above for the benefit of all.

Posted by Bigwig at October 27, 2004 02:21 PM | TrackBack
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Post a comment Note: Comments with more than two dashes per line will be blocked as spam.

Remember personal info?