Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The World's Most Annoying Spider

The smart money says this spider is about to devour this ant, right? Bet on the ant! Bet on the ant! The third species pictured, an acacia tree, is also involved in a surprising natural drama:

The jumping arachnid [Bagheera kiplingi], which is 5-6mm long, has developed a taste for the tips of the acacia plants - known as Beltian bodies - which are packed full of protein.

But to reach this leafy fare, the spider has to evade the attention of ants, which live in the hollow spines of the tree.

The ants and acacia trees have co-evolved to form a mutually beneficial relationship: the aggressive ants protect the trees from predators, swarming to attack any invaders; and in return for acting as bodyguards, the ants get to gorge on the acacias' Beltian bodies themselves.
The spider is almost entirely vegetarian, which suggests the possibility that the other spiders consider it preachy and notice bitterly that it still wears belts and shoes made from ant leather.

Amazing.

2 comments:

Bpaul said...

Great find, great commentary.

Bp

Dale said...

Bpaul, thanks. Who would have expected a vegetarian spider of all things? Cool stuff.