Another Reason to Fear Spiders

If you are afraid of spiders (technically that’s arachnophobia), you may want to stop reading now.

There’s a lot to be afraid of. As of July 2019, at least 48,200 spider species and 120 spider families have been recorded. They come in a large range of sizes, from a body length of less than 0.015 inches, to tarantulas with body lengths up to 3.5 inches and leg spans up to 9.8 inches (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider).

Some are poisonous, although fortunately for us, less than 30 species have been responsible for human deaths (https://www.britannica.com/list/9-of-the-worlds-deadliest-spiders).

They are also tricky. Trapdoor spiders ambush prey from inside burrows. Bola spiders construct single-thread bolas tipped with a large ball of very wet sticky silk. They emit chemicals that resemble moth pheromones and swing the bolas at the moths. A species of jumping spider mimics ants.

But the special ability that really impressed me is the huntsman spider of Madagascar. This species has been observed partially sewing two leaves together with its silk. This creates an inviting shady spot for frogs; one was observed eating a frog inside such a hollow (https://www.sciencenews.org/article/hunstman-spiders-leaves-fake-shelters-frogs?). This takes predation to a whole new level. “The first time that we found this phenomenon, we were very excited,” said biologist Thio Rosin Fulgence, of the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar. 

A huntsman spider feeds on a Madagascar reed frog inside a pocket built from leaves and spider silk. Dominic Andreas Martin

This is just another reason to be glad you’re at the top of the food chain.

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