What southern European spiders eat


This video says about itself:

Arachnid Anatomy (Orb-weaving spider)

23 November 2012

A new spin on the usual anatomy video: field biology! Basic external anatomy of an orb-weaving spider, using a live, wild specimen. This is a Cat-faced Spider (Araneus gemmoides), a common species found near/on buildings in North America. I’ve used this as a model although typically the Garden Spider (Argiope sp.) is used in zoology labs.

Also: I let a giant spider walk on my hand. Ha! But it’s OK, they don’t bite.

This video was produced by C. Ernst, a Teaching Assistant.

From Wildlife Extra:

Southern European Spiders prefer a Harvester meal (Harvester Ant, that is)

The southern European spider, Euryopis episinoides, has a distinct preference for Harvester ants, researchers have discovered, and identify them without the benefit of guidance from their parents.

The young spiderlings innately have a nose for these ants, report Stano Pekár and Manuel Cárdenas of the Masaryk University in the Czech Republic in an article in Springer’s journal The Science of Nature – Naturwissenschaften.

Euryopis episinoides is a tiny, 3mm long spider that only catches ants – in particular members of the Messor group of which there are more than 100 species.

The female conveniently lays her egg sacks close to such ant nests but this is about as much parental care as she gives to her offspring.

Once hatched, the spiderlings fend for themselves and this includes recognising and catching prey, all on their own.

The Czech researchers wanted to find out if the Euryopis episinoides spiderlings’ hunting activities were driven by convenience or truly by an innate preference for Harvester Ants.

They tested how newly hatched spiderlings that had not yet gone on the hunt reacted to the chemical cues left by three types of prey: Harvester Ants, fruit flies and Nylander Ants.

In just under half the instances, the inexperienced spiderlings assumed a hunting position in front of a paper strip carrying the smell of Harvester Ants – even though they had never before had the slightest whiff of this type of ant.

The researchers also tested the reaction of more experienced spiderlings that had been raised on only one type of prey: again either Harvester Ants, fruit flies or Nylander Ants.

They found that food imprinting changed the spiderlings’ innate food preference. This was because the spiderlings more often than not chose the type of prey on which they were raised rather than Harvester Ants.

In another twist, the spiders used in the experiment fared better healthwise when they ate ants rather than fruit flies.

“Our findings suggest that prey preference is genetically based but also affected by the experience with the first meal,” says Pekár. “Such an innate preference enables Euryopis episinoides spiderlings to rapidly gain information about prey and to successfully locate their preferred prey on their own.”

“Innate preference is beneficial as it increases efficiency in prey capture,” adds Cárdenas. “It is, however, important that spiderlings hatch near to a place of high ant occurrence, such as ant paths.”

Rare Natterer’s bat in Dutch national park for first time


This video sas about itself:

The Natterer’s bat in the BBC’s Life of Mammals series. In this clip, Natterer’s bats remove spiders from their webs to eat.

According to Twitter messages today, the rare Natterer’s bat has been found for the first time ever in the Biesbosch national park in the Netherlands.

The animal was found in an old military bunker, especially reconstructed for wintering bats.

Save endangered spiders in England, petition


This video from England says about itself:

Plymouth native, the horrid groundweaver, faces extinction

13 January 2015

Conservationists are warning that despite its trifling size and shy demeanour action needs to be taken to protect Nothophantes horridus, which is found only in a single British city.

From Buglife in Britain:

One week to save Critically Endangered spider

To: Planning Inspectorate

A new development is being proposed in a local wildlife site which is home to one of world’s most endangered spiders.

Originally the development of 57 houses in Radford Quarry, Plymouth was refused by the City Council but the applicant is appealing the decision and a planning inquiry is due to start on the 20th January. Buglife are asking for your help to stop this development by signing this petition.

We are asking for the planning inspectorate dealing with the appeal to dismiss the inquiry for the development at Radford Quarry, Plymouth.

Why is this important?

Plans to build new houses in an old quarry in Plymouth, could push a Critically Endangered spider, the Horrid ground weaver (Nothophantes horridus), even closer to extinction. We only have one week left to make sure the planning inspectorate know how critical this site is to the spider’s survival.

This tiny money spider is only found in Plymouth and nowhere else in the world. It is only known at three sites, one of which has already been lost to development. The proposed development, for 57 new houses in Radford Quarry in Plymouth, would destroy the second site and a vital ‘green lung’ of Plymouth.

To find out more about this campaign click here.

You can sign here.

See also here.

Rare spiders discovery in the Netherlands


This video is called YouTube Space Lab (Biology Entry): Jumping Spiders.

The Dutch entomologists of EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten report today on recent research about the stony dikes of the Maasvlakte area.

They found two spider species there, new for the Netherlands. They are Theridion hannoniae and Parasteatoda tabulata. Elsewhere in Europe, these spiders live only in rocky areas.

Another Maasvlakte species, new for the Netherlands, is Leiobunum religiosum. This harvestman species lives only in a small part of the Alps, in Luxembourg and Germany.

2015 European Spider of the Year


This 20 October 2014 video says about itself:

Ghost spider (Anyphaena accentuata) filmed on the edge of a woodland path in the Burgwald, Hesse, Germany.

The ghost spider is European Spider of the Year for 2015.

See also here.

Tarantulas, mating season and Halloween


This video says about itself:

31 October 2013

The world’s largest spider, the Goliath tarantula is also a venomous killer that liquefies its prey. Gustavo Hormiga, a biology professor at George Washington University, explains the arachnid’s ferocious hunting strategy—and why there’s no need to fear it unless you’re the size of a mouse.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Tarantulas Are Out At Halloween, But They’re Not Trick or Treating!

Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014 by eNature

Tarantulas are a group of often hairy and very large arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders, of which approximately 900 species have been found on 6 continents.

Halloween is almost here and lots of folks are thinking about spiders such as tarantulas—as well as bats, ghouls and other scary creatures.

But it turns out that tarantulas have a lot more on their mind this month than trick or treating.

It’s mating time for tarantulas.

And the story behind tarantula breeding season is a tale of long journeys, deadly peril, violence and love. It’s an epic worthy of Homer.

Mating Season Is Here

Fall is the time of year when male tarantulas, having finally reached adulthood, come out of the burrows in which they have lived for the first 5 to 12 years of their lives.

Their mission? To seek out females and mate with them. A host of perils awaits the newly emerged male in the outside world, not the least of which is the female herself.

The Women Are In Charge

Female tarantulas are doing what they usually do on warm evenings: sitting in their burrows near the surface, waiting to feel the vibrations of passersby. If the vibrations feel as if they might come from a small animal such as a cricket or another spider, she will rush out, grab the unsuspecting prey item and sink her fangs into it.

Clearly, approaching a female’s burrow is not a task for the faint at heart!

As a male tarantula approaches the burrow of a female, he first tastes the silk that lies around the entrance. If he detects a mature female in residence, he responds by drumming on the surface with his legs and his pedipalps (the leg-like first set of appendages, which are very long on tarantulas). The reason for this drumming is to let the female know that he is interested in mating—and would rather not be mistaken for a meal by the larger and always hungry female.

When and if a female emerges, he continues to drum as he approaches her. If she’s receptive, she will raise up the front end of her body and allow him to grab her fangs with the hook-like projections on his forelegs. He then transfers his sperm to her with his pedipalps.

That was the easy part—the difficult task still lies ahead: he must release her fangs, disengage himself, and make a hasty retreat before she can overpower him and eat him. Even if he successfully escapes from his big date, the male tarantula is still not long for this world. Adult males (mated or not) usually die before winter arrives.

It’s Not Easy Being A Male Tarantula

As if being eaten by your mate isn’t enough to worry about, the male tarantula must also be on the alert for predators like owls, skunks, and foxes.

If he detects the approach of a hungry hunter, his most effective defense is to quickly use his hind legs to kick some of the hairs off of his abdomen. The hairs dislodge easily and are light enough to float into contact with the nose and eyes of the approaching predator. On contact the hairs produce a burning sensation.

This line of defense works well against mammals and birds, but there is another tarantula hunter out there that is an even greater threat, and it is considerably smaller than the spider: it is a wasp called the Tarantula Hawk.

A Wasp That Loves The Taste Of Fresh Tarantula

Tarantula Hawks are among the largest wasps in the world; one North American species exceeds two inches in length. They are handsome insects with metallic blue bodies and orange wings, sometimes seen sipping nectar at flowers (particularly milkweeds) in the early evening hours. Female Tarantula Hawks patrol low over open country, searching for wandering male tarantulas or for the burrows of females.

When the wasp finds a tarantula, she lands and approaches the spider directly. The spider assumes a defensive posture, raising the front legs and baring the lethal-looking fangs. Unfortunately for the spider, this posture also exposes its underside to the agile wasp, which quickly darts under the spider and stings it in a soft spot where the legs join the body.

The sting of the Tarantula Hawk contains a peculiar potion; it paralyzes the spider almost instantly, but does not kill it. The “sleeping” spider is then dragged to a burrow, pulled underground, and buried with a single wasp egg attached to the outside of the body. When the egg hatches, the maggot-like wasp larva has a huge fresh meal waiting for it. The spider is still alive, its tissues undecayed and ready for the wasp larva to devour. The voracious larva will even eat the muscles and other “nonessential” tissue before consuming the still-functioning organs.

So if you are out for a walk or a drive on an early autumn evening and you happen to see a giant hairy spider making his way over the ground, don’t react with fear.

Just wish him the best of luck. With all the perils ahead of him, he’s going to need it!

Ever encounter a tarantula in the wild? Or anywhere else?

We always enjoy hearing your stories!

USA: HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR KIDS: SEXISM AT A YOUNG AGE “We quickly located a firefighter costume for boys, complete with a bright red jacket, a traditional helmet and an axe. The girls’ version, on the other hand, is a skin-tight, short, shiny dress that’s surely flammable. It includes a fascinator (in lieu of a helmet) never before seen on a real firefighter.” [HuffPost]

Wasp catches moth, spider catches wasp video


You have to look closely at this video, as everything happens quickly. A wasp catches a moth. Then, a spider catches the wasp.

The video is by D.M. Lodder from the Netherlands.