Agriculture
Silk’s superpowers
Got Milk? How?
Fast-flying fungal spores
Amphibians
Tree Frogs
Poison Dart Frogs
Salamanders and Newts
Animals
Polar Bears in Trouble
Ants on Stilts
Armadillo
Behavior
The Science Fair Circuit
Swine flu goes global
Talking with Hands
Birds
Pheasants
Chicken
Swifts
Chemistry and Materials
Fog Buster
Smelly Traps for Lampreys
The Taste of Bubbles
Computers
Music of the Future
The Shape of the Internet
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Dinosaurs and Fossils
An Ancient Spider's Web
Supersight for a Dino King
Mammals in the Shadow of Dinosaurs
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Weird, new ant
The Rise of Yellowstone
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Environment
Eating Up Foul Sewage Smells
Toxic Cleanups Get a Microbe Boost
Pollution Detective
Finding the Past
A Human Migration Fueled by Dung?
Traces of Ancient Campfires
Settling the Americas
Fish
Trout
Electric Catfish
Whale Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Strong Bones for Life
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
How Super Are Superfruits?
GSAT English Rules
Who vs. That vs. Which
Order of Adjectives
Adjectives and Adverbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
GSAT Scholarship
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Mathematics
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
Play for Science
Math Naturals
Human Body
Spit Power
Disease Detectives
Football Scrapes and Nasty Infections
Invertebrates
Starfish
Shrimps
Nautiluses
Mammals
Sun Bear
Goats
Cape Buffalo
Parents
Children and Media
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Physics
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
One ring around them all
Plants
Springing forward
Surprise Visitor
Farms sprout in cities
Reptiles
Box Turtles
Sea Turtles
Cobras
Space and Astronomy
A Puffy Planetary Puzzle
Big Galaxy Swallows Little Galaxy
Sounds of Titan
Technology and Engineering
Machine Copy
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
Roll-Up Computer Monitors to Go
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
Ready, unplug, drive
Robots on a Rocky Road
Charged cars that would charge
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Add your Article

A Spider's Taste for Blood

An East African jumping spider has eight legs, plenty of eyes, the hunting prowess of a cat, and a taste for blood.

An extensive series of tests has shown for the first time that these spiders don’t just eat the blood of vertebrates. They like it more than other types of food.

There are at least 5,000 species of jumping spiders. Unlike many of their relatives, these spiders don’t build webs. Instead, they hunt the way cats do. They stalk midges, ants, spiders, and other prey, creeping to within centimeters of a victim. Then, in a tiny fraction of a second (0.04 second), they pounce.

One East African species of jumping spider (called Evarcha culicivora) doesn’t have the mouthparts to get through vertebrate skin to suck blood. Instead, it preys on female mosquitoes that have recently taken blood from animals. The spider eats the blood-filled insects.

Robert Jackson of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, was one of the scientists who discovered and named E. culicivora 2 years ago. He noticed lots of these spiders living in and near houses in Kenya. To find out why, he launched a series of experiments.

First, Jackson and his coworkers presented the spiders with different types of prey. The spiders were quick to attack mosquitoes. This showed that the eight-legged creatures find mosquitoes to be yummy.

To find out whether E. culicivora prefer mosquitoes to other food, the researchers put spiders in clear boxes. From each of the four sides of the box, the animals could enter tunnels that led to dead-ends. The scientists placed prey outside each tunnel. They put one type of prey at two of the tunnels and a different type at the other two. The prey were dead, but they were mounted in lifelike poses.

Experiments with 1,432 spiders showed that more than 80 percent of the spiders chose tunnels leading to mosquitoes that had eaten blood. The rest chose to approach other species of prey.

In other tests, about 75 percent of spiders chose to approach female mosquitoes that had eaten blood rather than males (which don’t eat blood). They also chose female blood-eaters over the same kind of mosquitoes forced to feed on sugar instead.

Finally, the scientists pumped the odors of various prey into the arms of a Y-shaped test chamber. They found that spiders moved toward arms holding the scent of female blood-fed mosquitoes over other scents.

Even spiders that were raised in the lab and had never tasted blood were drawn to the sight and smell of blood-fed mosquitoes. This suggests that the taste for blood is something that this kind of jumping spider is born with.

The studies also mean that when a mosquito in East Africa bites you, your blood might eventually end up in the belly of a hungry jumping spider.—E. Sohn

A Spider's Taste for Blood
A Spider's Taste for Blood








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™