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Spiders and frogs: Halloween’s odd couple

Those who think the only time frogs and spiders end up together is in a witch’s cauldron might be interested to know that there are species from these animal groups that live side by side in the natural world. They occur frequently together, sometimes even sharing the same tree cavity.

This is curious because these spiders are tarantulas—certainly big and aggressive enough to eat these frogs—yet they leave them alone.

The frogs in these associations are microhylids (also called narrow-mouthed frogs), a family of frogs with nearly 600 species. They are not as well-known as other types of frogs, in part because most of them are only half an inch long, but the group is widespread, occurring in Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Australia.

The best studied of the associations between these frogs and spiders occur in Peru, Sri Lanka and India. In those locations, microhylid frogs and various species of tarantulas have been observed living for extended periods of time in the same tree holes.

These frogs and spiders are in a mutualism, which is the scientific term for a relationship that is beneficial to both species. The frogs eat very small invertebrates that are drawn in to the remains of prey that the spiders leave.

The spiders benefit because these frogs specialize in eating ants, which are one of most dangerous predators of the spiders’ eggs. Beyond food, the frogs receive protection from spiders against possible predators.

Spiders were observed attacking geckos that tried to eat the eggs of the frog sharing their tree hole. Spiders can also offer protection to the frogs against other common predators such as other arthropods and snakes.

There are often eggs and juveniles of both species present. The two species have been seen right next to each other after emerging from these cavities and the spiders show no interest in the frogs. That’s unusual as most large predatory spiders do prey on small frogs. Preliminary work suggests that the spiders identify these microhylid frogs by chemicals on their skin that are produced in poison glands all over their body.

Those chemicals are unpalatable to the spiders and may be toxic to them if ingested. (Experiments have shown that the skin secretions are toxic enough to kill mice.)

In the original description of one of these frog-spider associations, scientists reported seeing young spiders pick frogs up, examine them with their mouth-parts and then let them go without hurting them. The unpalatability of the frogs to the spiders may explain how such a close association developed in the first place. The unacceptability of frogs as prey for the spiders could have allowed the two animals to be near each other without the frogs becoming dinner.

At Halloween, we often see odd couples among the trick-or-treaters. Perhaps Captain Marvel appears at your door accompanied by a butterfly, or an ear of corn shows up with an astronaut. It’s no stranger to see those weird pairings than to see spiders and frogs be best buddies.

Daily Almanac

Tuesday, Oct. 22

City Council Meeting: 4:30 p.m. Flagstaff City Hall — Council Chambers, 211 W. Aspen Ave. 928-213-2061. flagstaff.az.gov/328/Meetings.

Crafty Corner: 3:30-4:30 p.m. East Flagstaff Community Library, 3000 N. 4th St. Express your crafty creativity. New crafts each week. 928-213-2348. flagstaffpubliclibrary.org.

FLG Game Night at Charly's Pub: 6-10 p.m. Weatherford Hotel, 23 N. Leroux St. Join us every Tuesday night to find and play your new favorite board, card, or party game. Our game masters will help you get playing fast and new players are always welcome. A great place to make new friends or have a laugh with your crew. 480-269-0624. playwithvault.com.

Family Storytime: 10-10:45 a.m. East Flagstaff Community Library, 3000 N. 4th St. Bring the whole family and enjoy a morning of stories, songs, puppets and more. 928-213-2348. flagstaffpubliclibrary.org.

Improv4Life Senior Improvisation workshop: 1:30-3 p.m. Flagstaff Senior Meadows, 1351 N. Pine Cliff Drive. Improv4Life announces its third workshop for 2019, the Fall Improvisation Workshop. It happens every Tuesday from 1:30-3:00 from Oct. 15 - Dec. 17. This free workshop, designed for the 55+ community, uses theater improv exercises and games to bring out creativity; build self-esteem; and provide physical, mental and spiritual stimulation. A safe space is created to foster an atmosphere of fun and freedom to explore, be spontaneous, and interact with others. No experience necessary, just a desire to let loose and have fun. 415-519-0883. improv4life.org.

Writers Who Lunch: Noon -1:30 p.m. Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library, 300 W. Aspen Ave. Many authors have day jobs--the trick is fitting in your writing between the shifts. Come feed your writing with the support and company of other Flagstaff writers. 928-213-2331. flagstaffpubliclibrary.org.

Yuan Gong Qigong Class: 6:30-8 p.m. First Congregational Church of Flagstaff, 740 N. Turquoise Drive. Have more life energy, learn the ancient art of Qigong for self-healing and self-empowerment. Beginners welcome. For more information: Contact Kayla at 928-525-6112. ka_star33@yahoo.com. Suggested donation of $5 - $10.

"The Odd Couple" Screening: 7-10 p.m. NAU Cline Library. An unlikely pair of divorced men, neurotic clean-freak Felix and slovenly sportswriter Oscar, move in together, and hilarity ensues in the second collaboration for Lemmon and Matthau, a great pairing that lasted through the 1990s. nau.edu/filmseries.

Flagstaff Dancin' Grannies: 1-3 p.m. YMCA, 1001 N. Turquoise Drive. Women's 50+ tap dance group, beginner-advanced. Tap shoes available. Call Cherie, 928-607-7488. flagstaffdancingrannies.org.

Trivia at Hops on Birch: 7:30-10 p.m. 22 E. Birch Ave. Trivia every Tuesday at Hops. Sign up starts at 7:30 p.m. - prizes for winning teams. 480-392-7334.

CCC ED Talks- Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad: 6:30-8 p.m. Coconino Community College, 475 S. Lake Powell Blvd., Page. Co-sponsored by the Glen Canyon Conservancy, Coconino Community College ED Talks presents Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad: The People Who Built It — A 150 Year Celebration. Visiting Scholar Dudley Gardner will be speaking about the people who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad, exploring the day to day lives of people who worked to unify the nation with two parallel rails of steel. 928-226-4174.

Burgers and Bingo: 3:30-9 p.m. Sedona Elks Lodge #2291, 110 Airport Road, Sedona. Lounge opens at 3:30 p.m. Food service from 5-6:30 p.m. (burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads), KaBOOM! at 6 p.m. and regular Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome but you must be 18 to play Bingo. acebook.com/SedonaElks.

Wednesday, Oct. 23

Nurture with Nature: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Kathryn Nelson, 1200 N Beaver Street. Please join us for a panel discussion on Nurture with Nature, featuring Annette McGivney (NAU Professor and author of Pure Land) and Nat White (astronomer, long distance runner and former Flagstaff City Council member) in the McGee Auditorium at Flagstaff Medical Center Campus. Learn how a deeper connection with nature can soothe your soul and melt away stress. Northern Arizona Healthcare employee artwork will be on display for viewing. 928-773-2484. 

American Legion Bingo: 7-10 p.m. 204 west Birch ave. The doors open at 5:30, Kitchen starts serving at 6:00 and the special games start at 7:00. The regular packet games follow immediately following. 559-639-7631. $5 and up. flgal3.org.

Baby Laptime: 9-9:30 a.m. East Flagstaff Community Library, 3000 N. 4th Street. Enjoy songs, stories and rhymes with your infant. Ages 0-2, with caregiver. 928-213-2348. flagstaffpubliclibrary.org.

Flamin' Hot Wednesdays: 2:30-3:30 p.m. East Flagstaff Community Library, 3000 N. 4th Street. Games? Slime? Origami? Join us to find out what's up next. Ages 12-17. 928-213-2348. flagstaffpubliclibrary.org.

Home Energy Efficiency Workshop: 6-7 p.m. Flagstaff East Branch Library, 3000 N 4th Street. House too cold? Want to save money and energy? A professional from CozyHome will teach you how to make your home energy efficient and cozy. Each household in attendance will receive a kit with $75 worth of supplies to use in your home. RSVP by calling Maggie Twomey at 928-213-2144 or email at mtwomey@flagstaffaz.gov. flagstaff.az.gov/sustain.

Practical Magic Course: 6:30-8:30 p.m. BellaLuna Magical Academy, 13 N San Francisco St. Suite 9, downstairs. This ongoing 8 week course will focus on getting started the right way for practicing magic. Perfect for beginners to the Craft as well as a wonderful refresher for those already walking the path of the Old Ways. Drops ins welcome. Go to Victorianmoon.com, click on the BellaLuna Magical Academy link and sign up, call us at 928-863-8311. $10. 

Stretch & Laugh Chair Yoga: 10:45-11:45 a.m. Jay Montoya Community Center, 245 N Thorpe Rd. Agentle, safe way to stretch and breathe for those with mobility, injury, surgical issues or those who can't do traditional yoga. Come check it out, have fun and get stretching. Every Wednesday & Thursday. 928-699-0558. $4.

Publishing with Rose Corcoran: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Flagstaff City - Coconino County Public Library, 300 West Aspen. Rose Corcoran will guide you through the wilds of traditional and self-publishing based on her own experience successfully publishing a trilogy. 928-213-2375. flagstaffpubliclibrary.org.

Census Jobs: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Joe C Montoya Community and Senior Center, 211 W Aspen Ave. Stop by to learn more about the 2020 Census Job application process.

Forever Love Pet Loss Support Group: 6-7 p.m. Federated Community Church, 400 W Aspen St.. Room 24. 928-963-1340. facebook.com/FlagstaffPetLoss.

Lifesaving Blood Drive at Flagstaff Medical Center: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. FMC / Northern AZ Healthcare Education Dept., 1000 N. Humphreys, Suite 241. Please help replenish supplies for patients like Mia, who needs blood transfusions every month to survive a rare blood disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia. Culver's would like to thank you for giving blood with a voucher for a free pint of fresh frozen custard. 928-214-3970. bloodhero.com.

Single Retirees: 5-7 p.m. Interested in meeting new single and retired people for conversation, food and drink? We meet every Wednesday at 5:00 PM. Call Julie for location information at 928-699-0044. 

Ballroom Dance Classes: 6:30-8 p.m. The Peaks Activity Room, 3150 N Winding Brook Rd. Each month starts a different dance which will build through the month. Beginners who miss the first Wed. please call or email. No partner needed. Two Left Feet? No Problem. More info: 928-853-6284, garmillam@gmail.com. $2 donation to USA Dance. 

Stand Tall -- Don't Fall: 2-3 p.m. Joe C. Montoya Community Center, 245 N. Thorpe Rd. Want to improve your balance? Your mood? Your flexibility and coordination? Your mental clarity? This class is unique so come check it out. Multi-faceted, safe and fun, we draw from over 100 sensory motor movements and cognitive and spatial awareness tasks. All movements can be done sitting and can be adapted for any physical limitation. First class is free, then $7/class. 928-863-0595. highpointaz.com/brain-gym-seniors.

Flagstaff Ukulele Jam: 6:30-8 p.m. Montoya Community Center, 245 N. Thorpe Road. Interested in the ukulele? Want to get together and jam? Flagstaff Ukulele Jam welcomes all levels and ages of ukulele players. Bring a music stand and copies of the tunes from the JamList or just show up and share with someone else. Check out our website for information, JamLists and tunes. flagukejam.weebly.com.

Pet of the Week: Roxy
Pet of the Week: Roxy

Roxy is a four-year old Terrier/Pit Bull mix. She is a happy girl, all wiggly with a fast swinging tail. When the camera came out, however, she turned a little shy. Perhaps she thought she wasn’t looking her best but we think she is beautiful! You can visit Roxy at the Coconino Humane Association and see other adoptable pets at coconinohumane.org.

Pet of the Week: Parsnip
Pet of the Week: Parsnip

Meet cutie pie Parsnip, a 3-year-old Domestic Shorthair Mix who is looking for a home of her own. Although she is still getting use to her new digs here at the shelter, she just loves getting chin scratches from new friends. She is a sweetheart and with a bit of patience from her new humans, she will warm up quickly and be the best cat she can be. Won't you please open your heart and home to this cutie?

As with all High Country Humane animals, Parsnip has been spayed, is current on her vaccinations and comes with a free lifetime microchip registration. You can meet her at our adoption center, Tuesday - Friday, noon to 7 p.m., and weekend from Noon - 5 p.m. www.HighCountryHumane.org