How Vampire Spiders Choose a Blood Meal
by Jennifer Welsh
A species of Jumping Spiders (Evarcha culicivora), also known as Vampire Spiders, have a very specific diet: female mosquitoes that have just fed on blood. A new study using “Franken-mosquitoes”— glued-together parts of different mosquitoes — finds that the spiders check for not only a blood-red belly but also for girly antennae while choosing where to pounce.
“In the past it was thought that jumping spiders responded to very basic stimuli that triggered predatory behavior. Something along the lines of, ‘It is small and it moves, therefore it is prey,’” study researcher Ximena Nelson, of the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, told LiveScience.
The new study indicates they are much pickier eaters than that, Nelson said: “It is clear from these results that this type of ‘algorithm’ is not used by E. culicivora [the jumping spider]. At the very least, it is much more sophisticated.” The spider’s favorite food by far is freshly blood-filled mosquitoes, and this arachnid species seems to need the blood to survive, the researchers said, hence the “vampire” moniker…
(read more: Live Science) (photos: T - Robert Jackson; B - Fiona Cross)