Reflections in Nature: Spider silk is extremely strong despite it’s very thin width | News, Sports, Jobs


Shown is a spider on a web. Spider silk is extremely thin, yet is also incredibly strong.

Have you been decorating for Halloween? Well, Mother Nature has been busy.

One morning when the dew was on the ground our daughter Holly looked out the window to see one of nature’s Halloween decorations, their lawn was covered with spider webs. Although the webs had been there all along, they were not visible until the morning dew highlighted them.

Later, the sun comes out and dries up the dew, and the spider webs appear to magically disappear.

No spooky Halloween decorations would be complete without cobwebs. Cobwebs often conjure up images of creaky old houses and dark attics where scary things might lurk. However, if you look around your own clean and well-lit house, chances are you will find a few cobwebs.

The mysterious tangles of sticky thread seem to appear out of nowhere, no matter how many times you use the duster on those upper corners. There’s not a spider in sight, so where do cobwebs come from? Could there be some supernatural involvement after all?

Our home, which was built in the early 1900s, seems to attract spiders. Mary Alice does not like spiders and if she sees one high on a wall or on the ceiling, I will hear her yell, “Bill, come get this spider.”

Through the years, Mary Alice had even offered a nickel to our children and grandchildren to find spiderwebs in our home. She very seldom goes into our basement due to the cobwebs that seem to develop overnight. Recently, she asked me what the difference is between a cobweb and a spiderweb.

Many people have a fear of spiders. This fear is often blamed on the Little Miss Muffet nursery rhyme.

“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and why. There came a big spider. Who sat down beside her. And frightened Miss Muffet away.”

The fear of spiders, which is known as arachnophobia, is one of the most common phobias in the world and one of the oldest recorded. It is estimated that roughly one third of the entire world population has arachnophobia. More women than men seem to suffer from arachnophobia.

The origin of the word arachnophobia is Greek and is derived from the word arachne, which translates to spiders and phobos, meaning to dread or to fear.

Cobwebs are simply abandoned spider webs. There are two types of spiders. Web-building spiders that spin webs for catching prey, and wandering spiders that chase after their prey, rather than building webs. Over time this dust accumulation weakens the web and forces the spider to abandon the web and build a new one. This is why you never see a spider on a cobweb, even though the spider is responsible for its creation.

Our word cobweb comes from Old English coppeweave and originated sometime in the 14th century. Coppe comes from attercoppe, which means spider or literally venomous head. The word web also has its origins in Old English and means tapestry or something intricately woven.

The word spider goes back to the Old English word spinthron, which means spin. The word spin is a general Germanic word that goes back to the Indo-European base word spen or pen, meaning stretch.

Spiders have long been celebrated for spinning silk from their bodies. They belong to the class of animals known as Arachnid, from the Greek word arachne, meaning spider. It commemorates the name of Arachne, a Lydian Princess, who became so expert in the art of weaving that she dared to challenge Athena to a test of skill. Arachne’s work was flawless but that of Athena was perfect beyond attainment of mere mortals.

Arachne was so humiliated that she attempted to hang herself, but the noose was loosened to become a cobweb, and the maiden was changed into a spider and condemned to perpetual spinning.

Spider silk is one-hundredth the size of a human hair and one hundred times stronger than steel of the same size. Some of the threads will stretch one-half their length before breaking. While the thinnest lines are only one-millionth of an inch wide and invisible to the human eye, other lines are much heavier.

Glands in the abdomen of the spider produce fluids that harden in the air and form silk. The outlets from these glands are at the end of the abdomen and are called spinnerets. The spinning organs of the spider are fingerlike appendages that are tipped with many tiny spinning tubes and a few large ones called spigots. There are at least seven distinct kinds of spider glands known; thus, spiders have the capability of producing various types of silk. Compare the way spiders produce silk to the way silk is produced by insects, such as caterpillars, and you will find that insect silk comes from the mouth.

There are 240 species in the 21 groups of spiders in North America. This number changes constantly because new spiders are still being discovered.

I recently walked into a large spider web, and immediately began to jump about as if a swarm of hornets were after me. At the same time, I was wiping my head in an effort to remove the sticky spider web.

If Mary Alice had seen this, she would surely have said, “I thought you were not afraid of spiders.”

Bill Bower is a retired Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Officer. Read his blog and listen to his podcasts on the outdoors at

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Man arrested after trying to pawn stolen photography equipment | News


MADISON (WKOW) — Madison police are encouraging people who own expensive electronics to take stock of them after a burglar tried to sell some of his haul.

Madison Police Department spokesperson Stephanie Fryer said a man told police in late July someone broke into his hotel room and stole his high-end photography equipment and an iPad.

The man gave officers his equipment’s serial numbers. The man also called local camera shops and gave them the serial numbers.

A few days after the theft, the suspect, identified as Daryl Patterson, 44, tried to sell the equipment to the Camera Company in Madison.

Staff recognized the serial numbers and called the police, but Patterson left before they arrived. The interaction was caught on video.

A few days after that, Patterson sold the equipment to a Milwaukee pawn shop. Again, the interaction was caught on video.

Fryer said Madison detectives tracked Patterson down to a home in Madison, where they found more property belonging to the victim. The victim was reunited with his belongings.

Patterson was arrested for burglary, resisting and possessing methamphetamine.

Fryer said people who own expensive electronics should write down their equipment’s serial numbers, as it’s the best way to make sure they’re returned.


Comedy Pet Photography contest winners announced: See the funny photos


Pets and animal lovers rejoice: the annual Comedy Pet Photography winners have been announced for 2023, and the photo and video winners don’t disappoint.

The global awards, now in their fourth year, were created by Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam, “to highlight the positive and vital role that pets have in our lives and to encourage engagement around animal welfare.”

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The contest calls on all pet and animal lovers to submit hilarious images and videos of their funny furry friends for a chance of winning the prestigious title of Comedy Pet Photographer of the Year.  The top prize winner gets $634 in cash (500 pounds), a camera bag and a trophy.

“This is still a very young competition in the whole scheme of things, but within a few short years we are already receiving some of the most uplifting, life affirming hilarious images of pets in the world!” Tom Sullam, Co-founder of the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, said. “We couldn’t be more excited to share these with you all. Pets have played a fundamental role during the covid years, and to be able to laugh out loud with these loveable creatures is the reason this competition exists!”

2023 Comedy Pet Photography Winners

The overall winner came from Michel Zoghzoghi with a photo of his two rescue kittens, Max and Alex, called “A life Changing Experience.” The video winner, “Cool Catch” by Emma Hay, can be seen in the video player at the top of this page.


The Comedy Pet Photography Awards 2023 Michel Zoghzoghi Beirut Lebanon Title: A life changing event Animal: cats Location of shot: Lebanon

Zoghzoghi, whose photo also won the Best Cat Category, is a professional wildlife photographer from Beirut, Lebanon and has traveled the world taking photos of much bigger cats.

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“Max and Alex form a lethally cute duo.  I had more fun and surprises taking photos of these two characters, than during my most adventurous wildlife photography trips,” he said. “I am extremely happy and proud to have won it as all the finalists were really outstanding and some of them made me laugh to tears. Pets are a very, very important part of our families and should be celebrated.”

Boudicca the ferret, whose owner is from Kyiv, Ukraine, took home top prize in the All Other Creatures category.


The Comedy Pet Photography Awards 2023 Darya Zelentsova Amherst United States Title: The first outdoor walk Description: Tiny happy ferret Boudicca (only 2,5 month old!) enjoys her first outdoor walk. Animal: Boudicca The Ferret Location of shot: Amh

“Ferrets almost never win anything in major international photo contests, and I’m glad to promote them as amazing pets and models,” Boudicca’s owner Darya Zelentsova said. They are intelligent, cheerful, social little creatures with great personalities and overloading cuteness – when you have a ferret, you literally never stop smiling!”

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The people’s choice award went to Chris Porsz from the UK with his snap of a dog jumping in front of surprised onlookers in a park in New York.  “Barking” also took the top prize in the Dog Category.


The Comedy Pet Photography Awards 2023, Chris Porsz,PETERBOROUGHUnited Kingdom Title: Barking!Animal: Border CollieLocation of shot: Union Sq, New York

“As an amateur street photographer, I have walked many, many miles and this is still my best and favourite photograph.  And it was one I nearly didn’t take.  But by some fluke, just as the owner of the dog threw the ball, I instinctively raised my camera and fired away,” Porsz said. “The dog was looking at the owner and then launched itself and flipped in mid-air to catch the ball. Out of the five images taken this was the magic shot which fortunately was in focus!”

Other winners include:

  • Pets Who Look Most Like Their Owner’s Category: Klaus-Peter Selzer with The Three Greys


The Comedy Pet Photography Awards 2023Klaus-Peter Selzer66763 DillingenGermany Title: The three GreysDescription: Karin and her two dogs. Don’t they all look almost the same? …Animal: Afghan WindhoundsLocation of shot: Landstuhl, Germany

  • Junior Category: Monyque Macedo Dos Santos ‘Is it a seal or is it a dog?’


The Comedy Pet Photography Awards 2023Thaís FerreiraBrasíliaBrazil Title: Is it a seal or a dog?Animal: The dogLocation of shot: BRASÍLIA, BRASIL.

The 2024 competition will be open for entries next year on the Comedy Pet Photo website at


International photography gallery on display at Greenville’s Grand Bohemian Lodge | Greenville


GREENVILLE — Fotografiska, a non-traditional series of photographic art museums, is partnering with Autograph Collection Hotels to display its new collection, Impressions, throughout the world — and is now on display at downtown Greenville’s Grand Bohemian Lodge.

The exhibit will run through Sept. 8. 

Four artists-in-residence at Autograph Hotels in Berlin, Tokyo, Oklahoma City and the city of San Pedro in Belize gathered collections centered around the themes of inspiration, vibrancy, emotions and seeing the unseen, according to a news release announcing the series.

Jonas Bendiksen walked the streets of Berlin while he stayed at Hotel Luc, looking for spontaneity in his collection, small moments that can tell whole stories about the scene they are set in. 

In Belize, Cristina de Middel pursued how the light, nature and color of San Pedro affected the characters of the city. Her work makes fictional scenario come to life with real characters and place, showing that the way we see things may not be as they truly are. 

While living at The National in Oklahoma City,  Gregory Halpern took his time learning the location, placing himself in unexpected parts of the city: a boxing gym, barber shop and rodeo. His photography captures the young, big-city feel, and how nose rings and nightclubs clash and blend with the tradition of wide open spaces, highways and cowboys.

During her stay at Mesm Tokyo, Alessandra Sanguinetti took the plunge beyond the surface of Tokyo in search of people and secrets, revealing what the veneer of the city doesn’t show. Sanguinetti uses contrast to reveal the rich reality of the interior world.

“Impressions is a special project in showing the individuality of both inspiration and of the approaches that artists take to manifest their creative visions into being,” Fotografiska’s Global VP of Business Partnerships & Development Karolina Dmowska said.

The collection started its journey in New York in July and  then came to Greenville.


N.H. Association of Conservation Commissions Accepting Entries in Nature Photo Contest


The New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions is granting prizes ranging from $50 to $250 for original nature photographs.

The “Water, Wetlands and Wildlife in the Natural World” contest is open through Sept. 8 for photographs taken anytime this year by age groups of 12 and under, teens 13-18 and adults 19 and up. Winners in each age group receive $250 and honorable mentions receive $50 each.

The Association says it is primarily looking for photographs that inspire the preservation of our natural environment.

Entries may be submitted online at


Photography exhibit shows dark side of nature – Butler Eagle


The Butler Area Public Library is hosting an art exhibit throughout July and August that showcases a local photographer’s take on brooding nature.

“Lindsey Gifford Photography: Dark Naturalism” will be available free for public viewing during regular library hours in the second floor showcases and gallery at the library on North McKean Street.

Gifford is a Butler County photographer whose interest in the art form was piqued in 2020 while taking pictures of her daughter, Palmer.

The mother and daughter have explored many themes in shooting scenes across the region, including fairy, witch and pop culture topics.

“We have the best time coming up with ideas,” Gifford said, “and Palmer has always been my favorite model to shoot.”

Nature photography became her passion as she hiked during a vacation in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.

Gifford uses editing to create dark naturalism and moody imagery in her work, which “captures the elemental magic and stark beauty of the natural world,” according to a news release from the library.

Gifford’s photography has been featured in art shows and recognized at local events and competitions.

Her work is available for purchase at and through Double Image Styling Salon in Butler.


West Rand Astronomy Club holds annual stargazing evening at Kloofendal Nature Reserve


West Rand Astronomy Club (WRAC) opened their viewfinders and lens caps to give the public a chance to view the heavens up close.

Utilising the beautiful expanses of the Kloofendal Nature Reserve, the stargazing event on June 24 doubled as a fundraising event for NG Kerk Culembeeck and a reminder of the amazing work done by Friends of Kloofendal (FRoK) in maintaining the reserve.

Dave Nevill of the West Rand Astronomy Club. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

Before the stars began to reveal themselves in the night sky, attendees went on a short tour of the solar system via FRoK’s educational display. The Planet Walk is a series of informative stations with rocks painted as the planets, sequentially dotted around the edge of the grass auditorium to demonstrate the scale of the solar system and the distance between the planets. For visual enthusiasts, University of Johannesburg lecturer Sheldon Rahmeez Herbst gave several presentations on the projects undertaken by WRAC.

A variety of telescopes were set up in the middle of the auditorium and the stargazing tourists took turns examining the detail of the moon and getting a closer look at Venus and Mars. Due to the time of year, gas giants Jupiter and Saturn were not visible but some telescopes gave an intimate look at the Moon’s Terminator, a term given to the area where sunlight meets the darkness.

A photo of the Moon taken with a cellphone through the viewfinder of a telescope. Photo: Supplied.

Dagmar Hubbard, Secretary of the WRAC, touched on the romance associated with the stars.
“We get so consumed with our small worlds that we forget to look up and see what is out there. It is very humbling and centering,” said Dagmar.

WRAC is primarily a social club for astro-enthusiasts and has several WhatsApp groups that specialise in a variety of topics from astrophotography, telescope parts and sales, physics, and general info for lovers of everything beyond our atmosphere.


Body camera footage shows ‘chaotic nature’ of Ogden police shooting


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OGDEN — Body camera footage, 911 calls and photos released Friday show what police called the “chaotic nature” of an officer-involved shooting in Ogden that resulted in one man’s death and one officer’s injury.

A community report briefing issued by the Weber County attorney on Friday afternoon gives a timeline from when a woman first called the police to when Brian Dee Simonton, 37, of Ogden, was killed in a shootout with officers.

Officers received a call at 3:26 p.m. on June 6 from a woman at Washington Park apartment complex, 170 N. Washington Boulevard, who said Simonton was violating a protective order. She told police he was known to have guns, was homeless and was trying to get her to take his dog.

Brian Simonton points a gun at officers in footage captured from an officer's body camera on June 6.
Brian Simonton points a gun at officers in footage captured from an officer’s body camera on June 6. (Photo: Weber County attorney)

She said Simonton had also left her several voice messages saying he was suicidal and “wants to be killed.”

“He just kind of showed up unannounced, and I know he’s, like, hit rock bottom. I felt bad for him, but I cannot have him here,” the woman told the 911 operator. “I’m scared at how this is going to turn out.”

Body camera footage from six officers shows the shooting incident from multiple angles as police surrounded Simonton on all sides. Eight officers fired weapons, but one was not wearing a body camera and another did not activate theirs.

A map shows the locations of officers and Brian Simonton during a shootout that resulted in Simonton's death on June 6.
A map shows the locations of officers and Brian Simonton during a shootout that resulted in Simonton’s death on June 6. (Photo: Weber County attorney)

The body camera of the first officer on the scene shows Simonton pointing a gun at him from across the apartment complex parking lot. The officer repeatedly asks Simonton to drop his gun and then finally warns that he will shoot him. He then follows as Simonton runs across the parking lot and behind an apartment building. After a series of shots fired from both Simonton and the officer, the police officer yells that he’s been shot, and runs back into the parking lot.

Other footage shows officers firing shots, yelling for Simonton to put down his weapon and show his hands, and telling other officers to “be careful of crossfire.” A succession of shots is heard before officers yell that Simonton has been shot down.

Simonton was pronounced dead at the scene.

The body camera footage from the sixth officer also shows one officer asking the other to get a tourniquet to stop the bleeding of the first officer’s arm. The officer who was shot was taken to the hospital and required surgery on his right arm. He has since been released and is in recovery.

Investigators found a .45-caliber long Colt revolver next to the body of Brian Simonton following a shootout with police on June 6.
Investigators found a .45-caliber long Colt revolver next to the body of Brian Simonton following a shootout with police on June 6. (Photo: Weber County attorney)

Photos in the report show a .45-caliber long Colt revolver found near Simonton’s body, along with five empty shell casings. Investigators believe he was trying to reload, as there was live ammunition also found near his body.

Simonton had been convicted of multiple domestic violence incidents, police said. He had two active protective orders against him at the time of the shootout.

Investigation is ongoing regarding the shooting, and a final report is being prepared to be submitted to the Weber County attorney’s office for final review.


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John Fielder’s lifetime of Colorado photography can now be viewed online | Lifestyle


Anyone at home can now view the vast and varied beauty of Colorado through the eyes of the state’s most celebrated landscape photographer.

History Colorado on Tuesday announced it had finished digitizing, cataloging and organizing a repository of more than 6,500 images of John Fielder’s illustrious career spanning close to 50 years. History Colorado had previously announced Fielder donating his life’s work in hopes of inspiring an appreciation of nature and climate action.

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The photos found on the John Fielder’s Colorado Collection webpage can be pulled for private and commercial use. The site includes curated lists for viewers to explore the mountains and plains of every county in the state just as Fielder did.

For decades, the photos have been seen in coffee table books and across walls of homes and offices everywhere. That includes the office of Gov. Jared Polis.

“This photograph is a constant reminder of the natural wonders found in our state, which generations of conservationists, lawmakers and everyday people have fought to protect for the enjoyment of future generations,” Polis said in a news release. “This collection, and the exhibitions that will come from it, are a chance for us to celebrate John and all he has accomplished, but more importantly, to honor the legacy he has created and the gift he is giving to the people of Colorado.”

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Later this summer, History Colorado expects to open an exhibit at its downtown Denver center affording a more intimate journey through Fielder’s career. Much of that career has been dedicated to conservation; Fielder has always sought lands and waters to photograph and show to lawmakers in charge of protection.

The collection “is a profound opportunity for Coloradans to see the breathtaking vistas that define the Centennial State,” History Colorado Executive Director Dawn DiPrince said in the news release, “and evaluate if the relationship we have with the land will allow for our grandchildren to experience the same wonders.”

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Upon the announcement of his donation, Fielder in an interview explained how he had seen landscapes change since he started photographing in the 1970s. In a life that saw him lose his wife to illness and son to suicide, Fielder described the loss of nature as heartbreaking as well.

“It’s like losing a wife and son, you think about them every day,” he said. “So too do I think about the impact humans have on Earth and what it’s going to be like here.”

In preparation for the donation, sifting through tens of thousands of files from his pre- and post-digital camera days gave him that reflection. It has been a deep time of reflection for Fielder, 72.

After months of quietly battling pancreatic cancer, he recently went public with the diagnosis.

One “incredible asset to (organizing the collection) is I revisited all these places that have defined my life, the most sublime places in Colorado,” Fielder said in a previous Gazette interview. “That was an incredible treat.”

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He thought back to his father from his North Carolina childhood. He remembered the man for volunteering and raising money for charitable causes.

“He was a man who believed you have to give back to your community,” Fielder said. “I’ve been able to give back to my community, and I feel like no matter what happens to me, I’ve achieved all of my goals.”