Cheiracanthium drives a Mazda
In March, Mazda recalled 65,000 cars, not because of any structural faults in the vehicle, but because the engineers had inadvertently created the perfect habitat for a tiny spider. The yellow sac spider, capable of inflicting a painful bite, was inexorably drawn to build webs in the car’s evaporative canister vent line. The spider’s nest could restrict the line, raising pressure in the fuel tank and eventually leading to a crack. It may be that the species is attracted to the smell of hydrogen oxide in gasoline, or it could just be that the little arachnids think Americans need to do a better job of carpooling.
Arthropods have a distinguished history of gumming up our most precise pieces of technology. The first computer bug was a brown moth that got stuck in Harvard’s Relay Calculator in 1947. I remember battling the ants that took up residence in my laptop in the Philippines, and a quick Google search shows that computer-nerd ants are a common complaint. Technology may be designed for humans, but it’s used by the entire ecosystem.