helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Vegetarian spider found.

According to this article, "The vegetarian diet of B kiplingi appears to have prompted other changes. Since it no longer needs to go through the energy-sapping business of catching prey, it has diverted its web-spinning abilities to building family homes. Mothers use the nests to rear their young."

This article has a cute picture of the critter, and suggests that the males, instead of being eaten, help care for the eggs and young. Webs are used for building nests and evading the ants that guard the acacia plant beltian bodies that the spiders eat.

Beltian bodies don't grow on acacia plants unless the ants are present, so in effect, the spiders have become farmers - the ants somehow cause the acacias to produce beltian bodies (spider in pic above is holding a beltian body and eating it). The spiders then evade the ants and take beltian bodies. Salticidae are amazing little creatures (and so very weird looking). The other spider I posted about that made all kinds of noise to avoid being eaten was also a salticidae (different kind). Very adaptive and intelligent...

In other spider news, a beautiful golden piece of cloth was spun from spider silk: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/spider-silk/ -- I like the cloth but felt a bit sorry for the spiders who got 'silked'. It takes them weeks to regenerate their silk once that's done. Luckily it's not economical for them to make a practice of it, but the cloth was really pretty.

Why am I posting about spiders? I can't stand them. But these were just so cool.

April 2010

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