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Fish-Eating Spiders

June 24, 2014

Some spider species fish go fishing for their dinner.

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A spider catches a fish in Ecuador. (Ed Germain)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Fish-eating spiders. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A spider waits patiently on the edge of a shallow pond, its hind legs anchored to an aquatic plant and its front legs stretched towards the water. Eventually, a fish nearly five times its size swims by. The spider attacks, killing the fish with a toxic bite to the neck. Biologist Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel in Switzerland says the little-known behavior can be a great source of protein for spiders, including some tarantulas.

MARTIN NYFFELER (University of Basel):

In total, we found 18 different spider species which were catching and eating fish in the wild and six which were doing this is captivity, but we are sure that in nature many more will occasionally catch fish.

HIRSHON:

After the kill, the spider drags its prize to dry land, taking hours to consume it. But the fish can keep the spider satisfied for much longer than smaller prey. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.