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Fish-Eating Spiders Fuel Nightmares on Every Continent Except One

By    |   Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 02:15 PM

Fish-eating spiders have been found on every continent except Antarctica, says a new study published in the journal Plos One.

The study's authors, arachnologist Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel in Switzerland, and fish ecologist Brad Pusey, of the University of Western Australia, perused scientific papers, citizen reports, and photos from around the world to count exactly 89 incidents of spiders predating fish.

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The predators are found more frequently in warmer climates, and prey on fish that are on average 1 to 2.5 inches long.

"Fish may represent a 'big-ticket item' in the nutritional budget of semi-aquatic spiders," Nyffeler said in the study. "Feeding on fish may be particularly advantageous during the mating period when the elevated energy and protein requirements of gravid (pregnant) female spiders require increased food intake, or at times of limited availability of invertebrate prey."

He said that many of the observed spiders could swim, dive, and even walk on the surface of the water, but oftentimes seem to prefer anchoring their back legs on a stable surface and striking into the water with their front legs and fang-like mouth parts.

Once a spider snags a fish, it drags it to dry land, and often injects it with venom that liquefies the insides. It then drinks them out over the course of several hours, "until nothing is left but bones and scales," said Nyffeler.

At least 18 spider species from five families have been observed catching fish in the wild, and six more species that include three additional families have been observed catching fish in lab conditions.



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Fish-eating spiders have been found on every continent except Antarctica, says a new study published in the journal Plos One.
fish-eating, spiders, every, continent
289
2014-15-19
Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 02:15 PM
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