27 September 2013

An extremely clean harvestman

As reported by Susannah Anderson in her delightful blog Wanderin' Weeta (With Waterfowl and Weeds):
I took a blouse out of the washer and hung it to dry. This daddy-long-legs came running out of a fold. Good thing I used cold water and the gentle cycle.

I saw him last night, roaming placidly around the bathroom; he looked duller then. Today, the first thing I saw was the flash of brick red. And he was panicking; I don't think I've ever seen a harvestman run as fast as he was before.
More photos at the link, along with this interesting question: "I wonder: does he run faster with shorter legs? Do those long, wobbly legs slow down his brothers?"

I don't have an answer, but I did find this interesting tidbit:
The legs continue to twitch after they are detached. This is because there are 'pacemakers' located in the ends of the first long segment (femur) of their legs. These pacemakers send signals via the nerves to the muscles to extend the leg and then the leg relaxes between signals. While some harvestman's legs will twitch for a minute, other kinds have been recorded to twitch for up to an hour. The twitching has been hypothesized as a means to keep the attention of a predator while the harvestman escapes.
Just like a skink's tail.  Cool.

1 comment:

  1. Lice and ticks are known to survive the laundry. Why not spiders too?


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