Nov 21, 2008

Cosmic Dessert

This harvestman is having a bad day. Not only is he often mistaken for a spider, but he has only a single pair of eyes, his legs (which function as sensory organs in their own right) are prone to falling off, he has no venom, no silk glands, has to molt every ten days, and he's often lost in the shuffle of a possible 10,000 different species of harvestmen. But that's all in a day's work. What's really bothering this arachnid are those red parasites (I'm thinking they're mites).

As I look at this photo, I realize that if I were to come back to this planet as some other life form, probably the worst thing I could come back as is a parasite who feeds off of spiders and their kin. I can't imagine having to have my mandibles buried inside a harvestman's carapace all day long, siphoning off its juices. That's a cosmic dessert I don't wish to be served.

Thanks for the photo, Rick. I'm going to go do some really good deeds today.

UPDATE: Based upon the comments, this might be an instance of phoresy -- the benign insect equivalent of hitch hiking, rather than parasitism.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Comsic"? What does that mean?

Raging Wombat said...

Dangit! Stupid spell check...

Liz said...

I hate those things...they're always all over the patio and I sit on them and my pants are all red spotty :(

Wendy said...

I think those things are chiggers. Ick.

onionpencil said...

actually they may just use him as transport.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating article on the Harvestmen! We have a few in residence and find they are very easy to live with! Question: Do their legs grow back?
Thanks

Raging Wombat said...

They'll get their missing legs back with the next molt. At most, they'll go short-legged for only about ten days.

Maskdt said...

This thing reminds me of Cthulu....

morgan said...

It's just phoresy! Arthropod taxi service! You taught me that word!

Scythemantis said...

They're not "chiggers" - there are thousands of different parasitic mites and chiggers are just one particular variety that attacks mammals during its larval stage (yes, mites are arachnids with a "larval" stage - and it usually only has six legs!)

Those may even be parasitoid eggs, but I think they're hitch-hiking mites.