If spiders are the villains of the bug world, mud dauber wasps can be described as the Batmen of said world. Like most wasps, they capture spiders for food, but mud daubers go one step further and imprison their nefarious prey in little asylums made of mud and wasp barf.
Pretty much the way they do it at fast food restaurants.
Mud dauber nests are composed of dozens of distinct prison cells, each of which contains up to three spiders. At any one time, there can be as many as two dozen prisoners inside plotting their next brazen escape. However, because wasps are neither idiots nor very good wardens, they paralyze the spiders first, limiting their ability to incite riots or trade each other for cigarettes.
Of course, the criminal justice system works a little differently for bugs. All of the inmates of wasp prison are convicted on one count of being delicious, and sentenced to be devoured by wasp larvae once the wardens' eggs hatch on their paralyzed bodies. Our position remains that they had it coming for being born spiders.
It's ok because you're ugly
Speaking of which ...
Unlike most spiders, who prefer to terrorize us from above, spiders in Australia have naturally learned a more subversive style of horror. Trapdoor spiders dig burrows under the ground where they spend their entire lives -- and by that we mean up to 20 years. And if that's all they did, well, they'd be just like most of the world's dirt-dwelling little bastards.
Mankind's punishment for their horrible sins.
But the trapdoor spider has a name to live up to. These spiders equip their burrows with a door made from soil and leaves, complete with a goddamn hinge made from their own silk, which makes the spider burrow completely invisible while sealed. That's right, on the list of dangers you have to worry about in Australia, you can now add "invisible spiders out of fucking nowhere."
Of course, the spiders have yet to master the technology of electronic surveillance, but they do have the next best thing. Sitting just behind their closed door, they utilize a complex system of tripwires with their webbing, so that when an unsuspecting victim passes close to the burrow, they fall victim to sudden underground spider attack. If we're not doing a good enough job of conveying the absolute horror of that scene, just watch it:
At least regular spiders are polite enough to spin a web at face-level so that you at least know when you're about to walk into one. Then again ...
Spiders are normally competitive. They are solitary Clint Eastwoods who stay the hell away from each other so that their horrors won't annihilate each other like antimatter. So it's rare that you'll see too many spiders in the same place at the same time. Except in Texas, where you'll find this bullshit:
You know what's scarier than spiders? Communist spiders. And we can't imagine how Texas avoided breaking into an all-out apocalyptic war back in 2007 when the Red Menace came in the form of this 200-yard wide Spidergrad gulag 50 miles east of Dallas.
No. No, no, no, no, no.
Apparently, this happens when an increase of humidity levels cause an abundance of the things spiders like to eat, and so the spider population explodes in a contained area. Unable to disperse, the spiders decide to put aside their differences and form a terrible army of Red Dawn proportions.
And this isn't an isolated case. Here it is again in Canada.
This time, the web covered 24 hectares of farmland, and housed something in the order of tens of millions of arachnids. Cell biologist Brian Thair speculates, "Maybe it was an effort collectively by these spiders to try and catch a sheep," but of course, he's only kidding.
Ethan Lou is a freelance writer. He blogs at ethanethan.tumblr.com, his Twitter is twitter.com/Ethan_Lou, and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Animals aren't the only ones who beat us out. Check out 11 Modern Technologies That Are Way Older Than You Think. And be sure to check out a few more technologies animals did before us, in 6 Modern Technologies Animals Invented Millions of Years Ago.