vegetarian spider, shadows, dairies aren’t all that wholesome

Herbivory discovered in a spider

There are approximately 40,000 species of spiders in the world, all of which have been thought to be strict predators that feed on insects or other animals. Now, scientists have found that a small Central American jumping spider has a uniquely different diet: the species Bagheera kiplingi feeds predominantly on plant food.

Spiders are ripe fuel for horror stories since many of them inject their prey with kind of digestive enzyme so they can literally suck out the predigested remains of their victim. Then sometimes they have two to six eyes on top of their head ( catch a common wolf in a petri dish and observe under a microscope to truly appreciate the multiple eyes). This herbivorous spider is weird enough in the looks department, but feeds off the plant nectar produced by the acacia plant. A neat trick since acacias have a symbiotic relationship with ants which guard the plant and also feed on its nectar.

The Bagheera spiders are “cheaters” in the ant-acacia system, stealing and eating both nectar and—most remarkably—Beltian bodies without helping to defend the plant. The spiders get the job done through active avoidance of patrolling acacia-ants, relying on excellent eyesight, agility, and cognitive skills.


The dark side of dairies

Milk may have a wholesome commercial image, but the dairies that produce most of the nation’s supply aren’t always healthy places to work. Dairy workers are injured at a much higher rate than other workers in the U.S.: Between 2004 and 2007, nearly seven of every 100 dairy workers were hurt annually on average, compared to 4.5 out of 100 for all private industries.

[  ]….The majority of the West’s nearly 50,000 dairy workers are immigrants, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture sociologist William Kandel. Many of them are undocumented, monolingual Spanish speakers like Gustavo. Such workers are unlikely to report injuries or file claims with the state for money to recover medical bills and missed pay for fear of getting fired or deported.

The workers are not treated much better then the cows. There are diary farms that let their cows out to pasture part of the day and probably treat their workers better – though these small farms are generally family operated. Family diary farms are quickly becoming a thing of the past.