I wonder about this all the time!


Well, not specifically Buckingham Palace, though…

Original by Hannah Hillam

I go into some ramshackle old garage on some rental property that was probably built in the 1940s, and I wonder when the spiders first colonized it, and how much turnover there is in spider populations, and if there is a pattern of expansion and contraction in some families of spiders in a neighborhood. So yeah, exactly the same.

Comments

  1. robro says

    I wonder when the spiders first colonized it

    I assume you know the answer…before they finished the building. In fact, there were spiders there before they started the building.

  2. says

    Well, no, probably not. These are synanthropic spiders — they share human habitation. There would have been a very different population of spiders there before housing went up: orb weavers, grass spiders, tetragnaths, etc. After the buildings went up, these kinds of spiders would have moved in. They would have come in on wagons when the first farmers were putting up barns. They would have been on the trains that came in (this is a railroad town), and their babies would have ballooned off cattle cars and grain cars to populate the houses and barns. Some species would have lived with the Dakota and spread from their homes to white people’s buildings.

  3. Muz says

    I wonder if they also imported Dutch and German spiders to occupy the building at some point after the local ones were deemed sub par.

  4. unclefrogy says

    I would think how long a given population of arthropods have lived in any particular building would depend on the history of the use of insecticide.
    Out here evrey time a house sells it is fumigated for termites not much lives through that.
    Given how small spiders are when they start out and how busy they are I think that there would be a fair bit of mixing going on as well. I would have no idea how you could track them when most off the movement happens when they are so small
    uncle frogy

  5. robro says

    PZ: I sort of knew that, but it just seems there are always spiders everywhere and they inhabit places very quickly.

    They can be tenacious, too. One of our cars has a spider living inside the passenger side mirror. I washed the car on Sunday, the spider already has built a pretty good web.

  6. nomdeplume says

    Yeah, what PZ said. The public and the media tend to scream “SPIDER” as if all spiders are just one species of creepy crawly eight-legged nasties. There are hundreds (thousands?) of spider species around the world, with hige variation in size, morphology, behaviour, ecology. But continuity and descent even in any one building like the Palace? I doubt it given changes in human activity patterns, re-decoration, pest control, and changes in the surrounding city.

  7. madtom1999 says

    As you point out in #2 – ballooning! I dont know if all spiders do it but if you’ve ever wandered into a field when seemingly millions are taking off its hard to imagine isolate communities of spiders anywhere the wind can blow.

  8. Dunc says

    1940s? Old?

    “The difference between America and England is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way.” – Earle Hitchner

    I would think how long a given population of arthropods have lived in any particular building would depend on the history of the use of insecticide.
    Out here evrey time a house sells it is fumigated for termites not much lives through that.

    We don’t tend to do fumigation in Britain, because there’s very rarely any need to. We especially don’t do it in massive historical buildings.

    In a building like Buckingham Palace, there are almost certainly spaces that haven’t been opened in at least a couple of hundred years. Heck, much of the interior decor dates to the mid-19th century.

  9. Snidely W says

    Yeah, ballooning. When the first critters that colonize new (e.g. volcanic) islands turn are spiders, then assuming continuity needs some compelling evidence. (I’m kind of surprised that there is any endemism in spiders).

    Perhaps using Ancestry DNA for Spiders would help to untangle the threads.

  10. horrabin says

    …how much turnover there is in spider populations, and if there is a pattern of expansion and contraction in some families of spiders in a neighborhood.

    Our Southern California backyard used to have a modest population of western black widows. About fourteen years ago, brown widows (an introduced species from Africa) started showing up. Their numbers exploded (I found their distinctive spiky egg sacks practically every few feet along our backyard fence) and the black widows all but disappeared. A few years later the brown widow population seems to have dropped back down to the level of the native species they elbowed out.

  11. unclefrogy says

    @10
    no I would not think you would need to fumigate much in the UK out west in California we have more then one species of termite to contend with so banks and loan companies and insurance companies kind of like you to kill everything that might damage their investment. there are developing so newer methods that use heat or cold however.
    As for old stuff we seem to like to tear all the “ugly old” stuff down and put some new ugly stuff in its place hundreds of stories of lost things.
    uncle frogy

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