Last year I posted some recipes for people to add to their Thanksgiving dinners, which I received mixed feedback about. Apparently not everyone likes the idea of putting a deep-fried tarantula in their mouth.
I know, right? I was surprised, too.
Anyway, this year I figured I’d post something really unique and original to celebrate the holiday: a list of things I’m thankful for. All right, I know that’s not the most creative idea in the world, but part of the reason why I started this blog in the first place was to give credit where credit is due for the tiny animals we often take for granted. So, without further ado, here are the top five arthropods I’m thankful for:
5. Mulch Lobsters
Roly polies, pill bugs, woodlice… whatever you call ’em, there’s a reason the very first ArthroBlogger post was about mulch lobsters. I’ve loved these little crustaceans ever since I can remember, and what’s not to love? They don’t bite, sting or pinch, they recycle nutrients in your garden, and they curl up like teensy armadillos when they get scared (shoot – I should’ve called them lobsterdillos). You have to go all the way to the beach to see most crustaceans, but with this one God was like “let’s put them everywhere there’s dirt so kids can play with them.” And I am so thankful for that.
You may also know these insects as “lightbulb beetles” if you’ve been reading since the beginning. Another arthropod that seems to have been created specifically for the bliss of children, fireflies leave nothing to be desired. These little beetles are the torch-bearers (pun intended) of summertime: there’s absolutely nothing like the joy of chasing after fireflies at dusk, or falling asleep watching a jar of them flicker on your nightstand. Even now, whenever I cross paths with fireflies, I can’t help but smile at their blinking bulbs and reminisce about summer nights. I will always be thankful for fireflies and the memories that come with them.
3. Sand Fiddlers
Sometimes I can resist the urge to wander after fireflies, but spotting a sand fiddler chasing the tide out or wriggling into the sand never fails to unleash my inner child. Not only do sand fiddlers take me back to the days when my cousin and I would catch them together at the beach, but they’re just so funny to me now that I know what I always thought was their butt is actually their face.
No offense to the sand fiddlers, of course. I just always thought they dug into the sand headfirst like everyone else, but these little goofballs like to go in backwards so they can filter feed particles from the water as it washes over them. You have to admit, though, sand fiddlers peeking their little faces out from the sand is a much cuter thing to observe than thinking they just faceplanted into the ground and left their tushies exposed to the elements. They’re not moon fiddlers, after all. Although, fireflies are sometimes called moon bugs… can’t imagine why…
So yeah, I’m thankful for these backwards little crabs. They make me laugh, they remind me of my family and our time together at the beach, and they give me a little burst of excitement every time I see them as my inner seven year old takes the reins and sends me clamoring to catch them before they can disappear into the surf. Plus they feed other animals I like, like ghost crabs and sandpipers. These little buttheads are the best.
2. Horseshoe Crabs
This entry is less random than it may seem. On one hand, I love horseshoe crabs (or turtle spiders) for their unique design and for hilariously not being crabs, or even members of Crustacea. On the other, I also appreciate their contributions to the medical community. Thanks to amoebocytes in their bloodstream that identify the presence of harmful bacteria, turtle spiders’ peculiar blue blood has been used since the 1970s to ensure that medications are sanitary before being administered to patients. Horseshoe crabs have thus not only prevented countless infections and deaths over the decades, but their blood has even been used to prevent bacteria from contaminating COVID-19 vaccines! If that’s not something to be thankful for, I don’t know what is.
1. Jumping Spiders
I’m thankful for many spiders, but jumping spiders are definitely my faves for their adorable faces, fancy colors, and phenomenal dance moves. Again, God didn’t have to create dancing spiders and bedazzle them in beautiful acrylics, but He did, and that is so awesome!
Just watching the antics of a jumping spider alone is pure bliss, but these tiny performers are also important predators that keep your home and garden free of pesky insects. In fact, I’m not quite sure you understand the magnitude of what spiders in general do for us: according to this website, we’d all starve to death without spiders because the insects they normally dispose of for us would instead dispose of all our crops. So I’d say it’s particularly timely to be thankful for these little hunters on a day largely dedicated to eating. Plus the planet would literally be crawling with those less-adorable insects, at which point even I could say “ew.”
There are so many more arthropods I could have mentioned here but didn’t have the time to. Bees, of course – I’m super grateful for them and all the other pollinating insects, but I think they’re some of the few arthropods who actually do get a lot of credit for their work. I’m also grateful for ants, crayfish, shrimp, dragonflies, luna moths, hermit crabs… there are so many unique arthropods on the planet who all deserve a round of applause, whether for delighting us with their presence or for working in the background to keep our ecosystems healthy. And us healthy! Horseshoe crabs and spiders aside, we’d be in a rough spot without so many of the other arthropods who eat things that would harm us, help plants and animals that we need, or have provided other insights into a variety of scientific avenues.
Arthropods are definitely an integral part of the biosphere, but they’re also living works of art: jaws drop at the flap of a butterfly’s wings, the emergence of a colorful crab from its burrow, the unexpected presence of a mantis on the sidewalk. Arthropods aren’t just nasty bugs eating nasty things – they’re tiny yet intricately designed organisms crafted to fulfill breathtaking tasks in breathtaking ways, sometimes right in our own backyards.
Remember to thank God for these remarkable little animals today. And maybe tomorrow, too. And of course on Thanksgiving. Just give Him a little praise the next time one of His little creations does something that surprises you – if you’re looking, that may happen more often than you’d think.