Mosquitoes supply spider with blood

Oct 11, 2005

Scientists in Sydney, Australia, say they've determined an East African species of jumping spider prefers to prey on blood-engorged female mosquitoes. And that, the Macquarie University researchers said, demonstrates a rare example of a predator choosing its prey based on what the prey has eaten.

Evarcha culicivora, a type of mosquito-eating spider, lives near Lake Victoria in Kenya and Uganda. As with all other spiders, these spiders lack the specialized blood-sucking body parts that mosquitoes and ticks possess and thus cannot feed directly on animal blood.

Ximena Nelson and colleagues studied E. culicivora and found the spiders consistently choose to eat female mosquitoes that had recently fed on vertebrate blood. The spiders preferred the mosquitoes to other prey such as midges, male mosquitoes, and sugar-fed female mosquitoes.

The researchers said the spiders identified their preferred prey by sight and smell. Those preferences appear to be innate, and not due to other factors such as prior experience or prey availability, the researchers say. Further work suggests the blood-meal is biologically important to E. culicivora.

The study appears in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Volunteers not safe from workplace bullying

Related Stories

The large wandering spider bites forever

Jun 12, 2014

The fangs of the large wandering spider (Cupiennius salei) are incisively shaped, right to the tip. The spider uses its curved fang to grasp its prey, punctures its chitinous armour and injects venom into t ...

Burmese pythons prove elusive prey in Florida challenge

Feb 27, 2013

Strapped to Billy Bullard's hip was a machete he'd bought at a yard sale. In his fist were 4-foot-long metal snake tongs. Attached to the tongs was a high-resolution waterproof camera he called a "snake-cam."

Spider spin doctor says arachnids getting bad rap

Oct 31, 2006

Halloween is a time when people don't seem to mind decorating their doorways with spider webs. But during the rest of the year, eight-legged creatures are on the wrong end of some bad press, according to one ...

Recommended for you

Volunteers not safe from workplace bullying

28 minutes ago

Despite the charitable nature of volunteering, new research from Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University has found one in three volunteers can experience workplace bullying.

The problem with solitary confinement

28 minutes ago

It's a practice that has been in the news since the Ashley Smith case first made headlines and, last week, the Ontario government announced it had launched a review of its solitary confinement policies.

100-million-year-old scale insect practiced brood care

42 minutes ago

Scientists at the University of Bonn, together with colleagues from China, UK and Poland, have described the oldest evidence of brood care in insects: it is in a female scale insect with her young that is encased in amber ...

The humorous path to academic success

4 hours ago

Academics and universities are in a race: to produce high impact publications, to gain citations, bring in grant income and climb university rankings. In this rat race, perhaps the true path to academic success ...

Scientists ask, peer review on fast track at what price?

4 hours ago

A fast-track peer-review trial is in the news. A Nature Publishing Group (NPG) -owned journal's editorial board member has resigned in protest over a pilot project where researchers pay for faster peer review. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.