Cleaning Up

Keeping your abode tidy and clean is a continuing chore for most of us. Sharing accommodation with others puts even more pressure on that activity if social harmony and health is to be maintained. The bigger the community is, the bigger the job. This is true for  species other than us.

Many insects have evolved to live in very large communities, which could arguably be referred to as well run. But picture living in one of these. What would you use for cleaning materials? No vacuum cleaners, not even a duster, just your tongue and teeth. Not a very appetizing thought.

So if you have a choice, it would be wise to choose to be a social spider mite (Stigmaeopsis longus). These little beasts use sticky dusters to clean up. The females use freshly spun silk threads to polish the eggs, to dust the nest and clean up the crap. The subject is to be reported by Kanazawa et al in The Proceedings of the Royal society (1) next month.

As I use my sticky roller to pick up cat hair from the couch, or my electrostatic duster to pick up dust from the bookcases, I wonder if we couldn’t persuade some social spider mites to move in and help out. With a robo-vacuum cleaner quietly charging in the corner, I would be all set.

  1. M. Kanazawa, K. Sahara and Y. Saito, Proc. R. Soc. B, 7 June 2011 vol. 278 no. 1712 1653-1660

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