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Fish-Eating Spiders Are Everywhere - Except Antarctica

| 19 Jun 2014 01:36

Scientists have recently discovered that fish-eating spiders can be found on every continent other than Antarctica.

Spiders have historically been considered insectivores. According to Arachnologist Martin Nyffeler, only a few spiders have been known to be fish eaters - until now. He and co-author of a new review Brad Pusey found that at least 18 different spider species have been seen eating fish in laboratories. The review was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

89 instances of spiders eating fish were collected, originating from rivers, ponds, and swamps on every continent except Antarctica. Most of the observed cases came from warmer climates and all involved freshwater fish.

A spider's fishing method isn't unlike a human sitting on shore with a fishing pole. "The spider typically assumes a position near the water's edge, with the rear pair of legs anchored to some vegetation or wood or rock, and their three front pairs of legs out of the water's surface," Pusey told Live Science in an email. Once the spider feels a fin or body brush up against its legs, it plunges in, latches on, and bites its prey near the base of the head, injecting neurotoxin. Then, it's just a matter of dragging its haul out of the water.

"It can take many minutes for the fish to die, and it is probably safer for the spider to haul it out of the water to aid in handling and reduce the potential for escape," Pusey said. 

If you happen to live in Florida, many sightings of fish-eating spiders originated from the Florida wetlands, so keep an eye out for a remarkable sight.

Source: Live Science

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