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: Everglades trail surveyed for cultural artifacts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US company sells out of Ebola toys

1 hour ago

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

UN biodiversity meet commits to double funding

1 hour ago

A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015.

Partial solar eclipse over the U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 23

2 hours ago

People in most of the continental United States will be in the shadow of the Moon on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, as a partial solar eclipse sweeps across the Earth. For people looking through sun-safe filters, from Los Angeles, ...

Recommended for you

Current state of the American family

2 minutes ago

Most young Americans plan to get married someday, but more than 40 percent of births now occur outside marriage, and the American family itself has become far more diverse and varied.

What labels on textiles can tell us about society

2 minutes ago

Throughout Chinese history, dynastic states used labels on textiles to spread information on the maker, the commissioner, the owner or the date and site of production. Silks produced in state-owned manufacture ...

Secrets of dinosaur ecology found in fragile amber

19 hours ago

Ryan McKellar's research sounds like it was plucked from Jurassic Park: he studies pieces of amber found buried with dinosaur skeletons. But rather than re-creating dinosaurs, McKellar uses the tiny pieces ...

User comments : 0