Huntsman spiders that eat tiny frogs have been discovered in Madagascar. Researchers suspect that the spiders construct traps using leaves to lure the frogs into them with the promise of protection from the sun before trapping them.
(Photo : Pixabay)
Back in 2017, Scientists discovered spiders belonging to the genus “Danastes ” clutching tightly a Heterixalus andrakata tree frog. It was the second time that the Madagascar spiders had been spotted eating frogs. The Huntsman spider was seen crouching inside a pocket-like shelter made of two leaves enjoying its meal. The well-crafted shelter was attached to a tree and the edges of the leaves were sealed with spider silk with a small opening left
Shortly, the scientists found three additional spiders, gathered together in makeshift shelters. Even though they weren’t eating frogs at the time, studies suggest that the pocket like makeshift shelters were constructed with the sole aim of setting traps against frogs looking for a shade to rest.
Surprisingly, the Damastes spiders are smaller than their prey. A co-author of this study, Dominic Martins of the department of Biodiversity, Macroecology, and Biogeography at the University of Göttingen in Germany, said Heterixalus andrakata frogs are about 1 inch (32 millimeters) long and slightly bigger than Damastes spiders.
Damastes, the frog-eating spider was found by researchers hiding between a pair of silk-woven leaves with its fangs pierced deep into a frog’s head. When they saw the frog, it was static suggesting that the frog was dead. However, they saw four other frogs near the tree that were still alive.
The researchers had in 2017 and 2018 found three additional spiders crouching in similar resting postures in different varieties of trees. The leaves were neatly woven together and surrounded by silk but there were small openings at the base close to the stem. The openings, scientists suspect, are designed to allow prey to enter the pocket-like traps.
(Photo : Pixabay)
Lifestyle of Other Spiders Around The World
Spiders all over the world eat about 880 million tons of insects every year. It’s possible that they can also eat animals with a backbone. For instance, tropical spiders eat fish, lizards, frogs, and mammals. They are also known to cause deaths to small vertebrates in the Peruvian Amazon.
Other bat-eating spiders live across the world except for Antarctica. Some popular photos have depicted various other spider prey including pet goldfish in South Africa, tadpole in the west of India, and a pygmy possum in Southern Tasmania.
Spiders are popular with building retreats, this way they can hide from their own predators and at the same time, they can target their own prey. The tactics the Damastes spiders used to get at their prey suggest that they weave the leaves to serve as traps to catch the frogs that seek shelter during the daytime.
“The frogs may be tempted to hide between the neatly joined leaves in an attempt to avoid dehydration and predation from, for example, birds ” Martins added.
However, it will require the monitoring of the Damastes spider using cameras while they build their traps to determine whether or not they are targeting amphibians or insects. Martin said spiders spend days without eating and therefore makes it very difficult to record their behavior.
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