1. blf says

    Perhaps it’s Fanghorn Forrest, wherein are the Ents, a force of nature that defeats Isengard, also known as the ivory towers, wherein cowered allies of the virus that shall not be named. The hobbits entered in desperation, seeking a place to hide; they found a powerful & rational ally, and brought down the evil ivory towers. (Albeit they weren’t wearing T-shirt disguises.)

  2. blf says

    OT(-ish) — perhaps unless the forest is Mirkwood rather than Fanghorn — an editorial in the Grauniad, Spiders: season of the web:

    Many people have mixed feelings about arachnids, but like many more popular animals they need our help

    Much less visible for most of the year, spiders make their presence felt in late August and through the early autumn. This is the mating season of some of the most common varieties, when male house spiders come out of hidden corners to look for females, and garden spiders reach adult size and spin their biggest, most dazzling webs.

    Yet while the spider is familiar […], its relationship with humans is complicated. Fear of spiders, arachnophobia, is common and has serious impacts on the lives of sufferers. Its prevalence appears unrelated to any rational assessment of risk. Spiders in the UK are almost all harmless. Farmland species perform valuable ecosystem services, by predating on insects that are our competitors for crops. But they have proved durable repositories of human anxieties […].

    Does this perhaps explain, in part, the lack of data about how spiders are faring in our age of ecological crisis? British butterflies are the most studied group of insects in the world, due to the long tradition of collecting and observing them. But spider conservationist Matt Shardlow points out that it was only in the 1980s that the taxonomy of house spiders was properly sorted out. And while information about insect populations is gathered by experiments that measure the numbers hitting windscreens or traps, there have been few attempts to count spiders.

    The huge reductions in the numbers of flying insects [The insect apocalypse: ‘Our world will grind to a halt without them’] can only mean a reduction in spiders’ food supply. A landmark study in Germany [Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers] identified a 75% fall in insect biomass between 1989 and 2016, with pesticide use thought to be to blame along with the destruction of wild areas for development. This means the overall picture for spiders is worrying, as it is for most creatures. But conservationists are most concerned about those varieties that are in difficulties due to habitat loss and fragmentation, which makes it impossible for them to migrate.


    It seems unlikely that spiders will ever attract the same level of human enthusiasm as bees, birds or butterflies, in spite of their unique status as nature’s spinners. But as they reveal themselves in all their finery this autumn, it would be a good thing if more animal lovers recognised the ways in which spiders […] are simply “terrific”.

    Perhaps Lio in the OP’s cartoon is going spider counting?