coolingcard (coolingcard) wrote in wtf_nature,
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wtf_nature

Bolas Spider

I’m a first time poster and just found this community.

So my father (Ken Yeargan) is an entomologist at the University of Kentucky, and one of the creatures he’s studied is the bolas spider, who has a really nifty way of catching prey.




There are three species in Kentucky, but there are many more species in N. America, Africa and Australia. My Dad used to have cages of these in our backyard where he would film their nighttime activities.

Not as much is known about the males. They are tiny compared to the females and oddly enough are born sexually mature, ready to get it on from the minute they’re born. But the females have evolved extraordinary hunting methods.

Instead of constructing your standard spider web, the female bolas spider will hang out on a branch or leaf with a single spider web thread. At the end of this thread is a sticky ball. She waits there and puts out chemicals that mimic female moth pheromones to attract male moths looking to score. But in true spiderwoman fashion, when they show up to get laid she whacks them in the face with the sticky ball. Then she reels ‘em in, wraps them up like a burrito in spider thread, sets them aside to eat later, and keeps hunting.

And here’s the kicker, for at least one species in Kentucky. They can adjust the chemical mimicry to match different species of moth that are active at different times during the night. Here’s some pretty good footage.

Tags: arachnid, spider
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  • New Spider weaves spider-shaped web

    Source: National Geographic Wildlife biologist Phil Torres recently discovered a new species of spider in the Amazon that would take first prize…

  • Giant Queensland spider devours snake

    Cairns man Ant Hadleigh snapped photos of a golden orb spider attempting to eat a brown tree snake in a Freshwater backyard, April 2012. He estimated…

  • Tarantula with fungal antlers!

    Fungal infection causes tarantula to grow antlers | io9 -- [ This image may look like something dreamed up for a surreal horror movie, but it's a…