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: How were fossil tracks made by Early Triassic swimming reptiles so well preserved?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Predicting human crowds with statistical physics

22 hours ago

For the first time researchers have directly measured a general law of how pedestrians interact in a crowd. This law can be used to create realistic crowds in virtual reality games and to make public spaces safer.

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

Feb 27, 2015

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

Broken windows thesis springs a leak

Feb 27, 2015

The broken windows theory posits that minor misdemeanors, like littering or graffiti spraying, stimulate more serious anti-social behavior. LMU sociologists now argue that the idea is flawed and does not ...

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.