One in 40,000: first veggie spider discovered
Scientists have discovered the world’s first vegetarian spider, which eats nectar-filled leaf tips rather than other animals. It is the first of about 40,000 species of spider known to survive by eating plant food.
The jumping spider, Bagheera kiplingi, which lives in Central America, has been found to steal the nectar-filled leaf tips of acacia bushes, called Beltian bodies, which are jealously guarded by a species of ant against any would-be herbivores.
Scientists have found that the spider uses its excellent eyesight, agility and cunning to dodge the attentions of the ants, which are involved an mutually-beneficial “symbiotic” relationship with the acacia, which provides food and housing for the ants in return for their protection against leaf eaters.
The research, published in the journal Current Biology, revealed that the Beltian bodies are the main food source for the spiders, which “cheat” the system by taking the plant food without doing anything to protect the tree.
The spiders were found to be almost entirely vegetarian in Mexico but supplement their diet with prey including ant larvae more often in Costa Rica. The scientists, led by Christopher Meehan of Villanova University and Eric Olson of Brandeis University in the US, said the spiders may mimic the ants’ chemical scent.
Mr Meehan said: “Jumping spiders in general possess incredibly advanced sensory-cognitive skills and eight-legged agility, and Bagheera is no exception.
“Individuals employ diverse, situation-specific strategies to evade ants and the ants simply cannot catch them.”
Being vegetarian may also have influenced other social habits of the species, with hints that the males help to care for eggs and young – a tactic which is virtually unheard of among spiders, the researchers said.
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around
Global warming ‘will make our winters colder’
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
A good year for nature in Britain, despite the cold: After frostiest March for 50 years, summer gave rise to an explosion in wildlife
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Northern Lights in the UK: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...