Project for the day

We’re getting close. This week I’m training some students (and myself) in spider classification, and then the week after we’re going to start charging into local residences to sample spider populations, with the goal of getting an estimate of the distribution of synanthropic species and making a baseline measurement of how their numbers change over the summer. So today I’m making signs that we’ll hang up around town to get volunteers.

I’ll be curious to see if my phone starts ringing madly or if I get nothing but silence — I don’t expect a lot of enthusiasm in the community for someone finding spiders in their homes, but maybe they’ll be curious. If I get no response, my backup plan is to show up in some neighborhoods and do some good old-fashioned door knocking.

This isn’t the only project I’ll have going this summer — we’re also going to do some laboratory work with developing P. tepidariorum. Anyway, I’m about to get busy.


  1. Chris Capoccia says

    I’m guessing people would be more thrilled to have someone from the Spider Inspectors ring their doorbell than JWs or salesmen, but slightly less than girl scout cookies

  2. chris61 says

    I’m guessing people would be more thrilled to have someone from the Spider Inspectors ring their doorbell than JWs or salesmen, but slightly less than girl scout cookies

    Maybe PZ and his students should offer a free box of girl scout cookies with every inspection?

  3. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out there isn’t enough cheese (and MUSHROOMS!) to interest anyone. She suggests a few alternations:

    The Cheese Apocalypse is Crawling Towards Morris…
    FREE! Spiders with Cheese!
    Your home is full of creepy-crawly alien beings swarming in every shadow, waiting, Waiting, WAITING, to LEAP OUT and eat all your Cheese!

    Fortunately, the brave (and mad) perfessor, and his few remaining undigested students, will, for free, Free, FREE!, do… Creepy Crawly Crawlings through the nooks, crannies, attics, and garages, looking for The Cheese Menace!

    Dangerous spiders will be removed at no extra charge (as long as the supply of students lasts, so call early and often!). Any skeletons found will be discretely disposed. Avoid the rush! Call Dr Poopyhead between the hours of 3am–5am and leave a message.

  4. says

    The Spider Gang is kicking off the Spider Season at my house next weekend, and I’m providing pizzas to start us off right. Cheese pizza, vegetarian pizza, pepperoni pizza. We won’t be having spider pizza, sorry to say.

    I spent the last few hours prowling around town, tacking up signs at all the various places that provide cork board spots for community events. Now I wait.

  5. gorobei says

    Dear God! PZ, I assume you have access to peers in your school’s graphic design or art or art history or sociology or propaganda or anything-not-spiders department. They can fix the fonts and everything else you probably didn’t think was important on your poster.

  6. gorobei says

    Oh, you could even do a little A-B test of your posters versus ones designed by graphic designers. Which ones get the most responses? Which ones get the grad students invited in for Netflix and chill? Cool science.

  7. gorobei says

    @8 Sean Boyd. That’s too bad, probably unethical to use undergrads as an unwitting dataset.

  8. Sean Boyd says

    PZ @5,

    Does your local pizza shop have a non-dairy option? If any of your Spider Gang are vegan, cheese and such would be an issue.

  9. ridana says

    You should’ve ripped a random tag or two off of your posters before putting them up. No one wants to be first, unless it’s something already in high demand, like free concert tickets, or a vacancy in a tight housing market.

  10. chrislawson says

    “Confidential!” In case Trump develops arachnophobia and creates a Spider Elimination Agency with complete disregard for constitutional protections?

  11. chrislawson says

    “We can remove any venomous spiders…”

    Ah, now I get it. You’re covertly building a spider army.

  12. paulburnett says

    Love spiders. I used to bring tarantulas from work for the kids to play with – they would build Lego cities for them. I would send the kids out into the back yard to turn over random bricks or pieces of firewood and bring back a Black Widow to show to visitors. I used to mail Black Widow egg cases (which look exactly like a Kix) to a biologist at UT Knoxville – I once forgot an egg case in a jar on the kitchen windowsill, and a couple of hundred pinhead spiderlings started to spread out – I quickly took them to a nearby hillside and watched them balloon away.

  13. =8)-DX says

    @gorobei #6
    What is this nonsense? I assure you the design and fonts on that poster are perfect. It’s art even.

  14. Callinectes says

    Be sure to borrow a level A hazmat suit, just to show you mean business and to give the neighbours grist for the rumour mill.