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Spiders Can Catch and Devour Fish [Slide Show]

Entomologists confirm fish-eating spiders are widespread and wily

By Daisy Yuhas

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Leggy Luncheon Visitor

Give a spider a fish and it will feast for hours. Teach a spider to fish, however, and you are probably just wasting your time—it turns out many species are already more than proficient. Take for example this specimen from the voracious fishing spider family, Dolomedes, which has captured a pond fish in a garden near Brisbane, Australia.....[ More ]

Mighty Mouthful

To get a sense of just how common fish-eating spider events are, researchers Martin Nyffeler , an entomologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, and Bradley J. Pusey , an ecologist at the University of Western Australia, pored through scholarly journals, photos and other documentation to develop a more comprehensive understanding of fish predation by spiders.....[ More ]

All in the Technique

Certain species of semiaquatic spiders can dive, swim and walk on top of the water. When capturing bugs, these arachnids typically dangle their legs atop the water’s surface, waiting for changes in surface tension much as they would the vibrations on a web.....[ More ]

High and Dry

Spiders have to pull their prey out of the water to consume them. This is because to eat, spiders must first pump enzymes, which would be diluted underwater, into their quarry’s body to break down tough tissues.....[ More ]

Such Great Heights

In total, the entomologists identified five spider families that capture and consume fish in natural conditions. They presented a full list of their findings in PLoS One on June 18 . “The fact that spiders from many different families are catching fish was very surprising to me,” Nyffeler says.....[ More ]

Snagged

Nyffeler, who has previously studied spider predation of bats, explains that, generally speaking, vertebrates are still a small part of the spiders’ diets. For those arachnids lucky enough to enjoy a fish dinner, however, the meal provides far more protein and energy than the typical insect snack.....[ More ]

One Man's Bait Is a Spider's Dinner

Most fish-eating spider reports come from the eastern U.S. Here, for example, a Dolomedes spider has just snagged some bait fish after a fisherman’s bad cast on a dock in Maine. Nyffeler and Pusey believe the number of reports in this region reflects the high population of nature watchers and ecological researchers in these areas.....[ More ]

All You Can Eat

Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida is home to many fishing spiders, such as the one shown here. A popular non-insectean target for Floridian semiaquatic spiders is the common mosquito fish, an abundant surface-feeder, but these spiders are also known to snag the occasional frog.....[ More ]

Northern Exposure

Most reports of fish-eating spiders come from between latitudes 40 degrees south and north of the equator, meaning these fishing spiders primarily inhabit places with warmer climes. There are exceptions, however, as this Dolomedus scriptus spider hauling up a sunfish in Ontario illustrates.....[ More ]

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