Spiders Galore

Spiders Alive! at the American Museum of Natural History

The island of Guam is experiencing 40 times the number of spiders in years past. The reason is linked to a catastrophic loss of birds to brown snakes, an introduced species that has grown to 2 million snakes. The result? Fewer birds to keep down the spider and insect populations. Yellow banana spiders abound in the island nation. A study just released in  the Public Library of Science (PloS) is based on counting spider webs!

Meanwhile, at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, special training was needed to prepare spiders for human handling in the Spiders Alive! exhibition, which is on view through Dec. 12. There are 43,000 varieties of arachnids — just 19 live varieties on display, including the goliath bird   and the golden orb-web spider that builds a web some 3 feet in diameter.