We often see recommendations for summer reads, and although it isn’t lightweight (hardcover at 328 pp), the new book Amazing Arachnids by Jillian Cowles makes my list.
The American Southwest is full of interesting and unique arachnids. In this book, naturalist and clinical microbiologist Jillian Cowles has captured photographs over over 300 different kinds of arachnids from eleven orders found there, including some that have never been seen before. (The cover photo is by Bruce D. Taubert).
Of course we looked for ants first. They are not listed in the index, but there’s a photograph of a tiny ant mimic spider in the genus Bellota on page 29. Cowles mentions that black widow spiders eat ants (page 200) and has a full page photograph of Euryopis scriptipes spider holding a harvester ant on page 201. On page 245 is a Peckhamia jumping spider that mimics ants and on page 253 there are three genera of ant mimic spiders, Tutelina, Sarinda, and Peckhamia again.
In addition to spiders, the book covers:
- Short-tailed Whipscorpions
- Tailless Whipscorpions
- Wind Spiders
- Ticks and Mites
Cowles passion comes through in the text. She discusses anatomy and taxonomy for each group before delving into their unusual biological characteristics. For example, she suggests the ability of scorpions to fluoresce at night under UV light may “reflect” a way they protect themselves against the intense daytime solar radiation of the desert Southwest. Cool!
If you are as fond of or fascinated by all things eight legged as Cowles, then Amazing Arachnids is the book for you.
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Princeton University Press (June 12, 2018)
Know any children who are interested in spiders? Try one of these two adorable fiction picture books with spider characters.
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