Feb 2

Pottery, cross-stitch, woodwork, candle-making, knitting, stencilling, soap-making….the list of crafts that we humans enjoy is endless. Whilst we like to decorate our homes (and ourselves), it turns out that there are plenty of other species who rival us in the creativity stakes. Here is a taster of what we’re competing with…

When it comes to woodwork, the American beaver is to be marvelled at. Strong incisors mean that tree-felling is all in a days work for this species.

American beaver photo 

If weaving is your thing, then the purse-web spider is one to watch. Despite its name, this spider weaves a web that’s more like a sock than a purse. The sock-like web is then used to line a burrow, with part of the web remaining on the surface. Unlucky insects that happen to land on the web are dragged inside the burrow and eaten resulting in a rather grizzly end to this particular weaving project.

Purse-web spider photo

Showing that flower-arranging isn’t a solely female pastime, the male Vogelkop bowerbird not only manages to make an enormous bower to impress the ladies, he also indulges in a spot of flower arranging.

Vogelkop bowerbird photo 

They may be small but their skills are mighty – magnetic termites are capable of constructing huge wedge-shaped mounds. As if that isn’t impressive enough, these mounds are usually orientated north-south (hence magnetic termites) which is thought to help the termites regulate temperature more efficiently.

 Photo of magnetic termite mound

When you’re sat there weaving a basket out of raffia, do you ever stop to wonder where your raffia comes from? The aptly named raphia palm, known for having the largest leaves amongst all plants, provides us with our much-loved raffia, which is actually a fibre extracted from the leaves.

 Raphia palm photo

So as you can see, there’s some pretty stiff creative competition out there. Although I can’t help but think that most home crafts would be a lot easier if one is lucky enough to have eight legs!

Bonnie Metherell, ARKive Media Reseacher