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HORSESHOE CRABS

Here are some interesting facts about horseshoe crabs — Limulus polyphemus — those strange-looking creatures you often see at the seashore, according to Kirk J. Havens, assistant director, Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science:0501crab.jpg (13911 bytes)

  • Horseshoe crabs appeared in our oceans more than 300 million years ago — long before the dinosaurs.
  • Horseshoe crabs are more closely related to spiders than they are to crabs.
  • Females lay about 20,000 BB-sized eggs that are very important as a food source for migratory birds that are flying northward from their southern wintering habitats in Central and South America.
  • Horseshoe crab blood is used to screen drugs for bacteria. A chemical in the blood forms clots in the presence of bacteria. It is used by medical companies as a fast, effective way of testing drugs before they are given to people. A small amount of blood is taken from horseshoe crabs and the crab is released back into the water. Some estimates are that the product is worth up to $15,000 a quart.
  • For additional information visit the VIMS Chesapeake Bay Watch site at www.vims.edu/ccrm/chesbaywatch.htm. From that site you can view some additional information plus our video on horseshoe crabs.

BUSY BUGS

0501bugman.jpg (13226 bytes)Ever wonder how a caterpillar transforms itself into a beautiful butterfly? Want to know what insects benefit your garden? Learn the answers to these questions and more during The Secret World of Gardens hosted by science and horticulture expert Martin Galloway on HGTV. Bumblebees, praying mantis and beetles are seen in a whole new light as the series lets you explore our world from an insect’s point of view, and probes the role these creatures play in a typical backyard ecosystem. The new half-hour series can be seen at 8 p.m. Tuesdays.

Photo: HGTV

May 2001

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