Spiders make the front page

Spiders don’t usually get much good press. Whenever I told people I was writing a story for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on spider personalities, most people made a face like “ewww!!”

But spiders are some of the most interesting creatures you could imagine and — if you take the time to look at them — also beautiful.

Anyway, I tried to spread some of my enthusiasm by introducing Pittsburgh newspaper readers to behavioral ecologist and social spider personality expert extraordinaire  Jonathan Pruitt, who I wrote about here a couple of years ago. Now the story has ended up on the front page, complete with staged photo of Jonathan with his hands full of social spider webs, a la Spiderman. FYI, coating himself in spider webs is not something Jonathan does most days.

I also spent a fun day shadowing one of his visits to local schools, where students participate in spider research.

Sadly, one of my sidebars is missing from the online story, which included a description of how researchers use modified vibrators to simulate a prey item struggling in a web, to test communal foraging responses. Apparently it’s the most practical tool for the job 🙂