Fish-eating spiders ‘widespread’

Jun 20, 2014

By BBC

 

Scientists have discovered that a number of spider species catch and eat fish.

Spiders are traditionally viewed as predators of insects, but a new study suggests that eating fish is widespread among species that live near water.

In some cases, the arachnids used powerful poisons to kill fish that were much bigger than them.

Details of the study by a Swiss-Australian team appear in the academic journal Plos One.

Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel in Switzerland and Bradley Pusey from the University of Western Australia gathered and documented numerous incidents of spiders catching fish.

Their review of the evidence shows that spiders from as many as five families have been observed eating small fish in the wild and three more families contain species that catch fish under laboratory conditions.

These semi-aquatic spiders typically dwell at the fringes of shallow freshwater streams, ponds or swamps.

Some are capable of swimming, diving and walking on the water surface. But they generally have powerful neurotoxins and enzymes enabling them to kill and digest fish that are bigger and heavier than them.

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