Spiders are scared of things too

18 August 2014 by Christopher Buddle, posted in Behaviour, Spiders, Wasps

I've written a lot about Arachnophobia over the past little while, and it's certainly clear that many people are quite scared of spiders. But what about the spiders? What might they be fearful of...?

Well, a picture can say a thousand words, so here goes:

 

A spider was in the genus Auplopus. Photo by Sunny Joseph, reproduced here with permission.

A spider was in the genus Auplopus. Photo by Sunny Joseph, reproduced here with permission.

In the photo, the wasp (in the family Pompilidae) is exhibiting its normal behaviour, which involves catching spiders, and in this case removing the legs of its prey, and the wasp prepares to take the spider back to its "lair" to help nourish wasp larvae. Yes, if I were a spider I would be quite fearful of some species of wasps. If I was a spider, I would probably have a bad case of waspophobia.

Just this morning Sean McCann sent me a link to one of his photos of a GIANT pompilid wasp he found in French Guiana. Given its size, you can probably guess the kind of spiders upon which it preys... (hint: GIANT wasp preys on GIANT spiders). Indeed, spiders have good reason to be fearful of wasps.

A GIANT spider wasp (genus Pepsis): photo by S. McCann, reproduced here with permission.

A GIANT spider wasp (genus Pepsis): photo by S. McCann, reproduced here with permission.

Spider ought to be fearful of wasps for the sake of their own little tiny, cute spiderlings. Many parasitoid wasps also go on the search for spiders, and in some cases, the wasps lay eggs inside the egg sacs of spider, and the wasp larvae can enjoy a feast of spiderlings in the safety of an egg sac. Yikes!

A Gelis wasp emerging from a wolf spider egg sac. Photo by C. Ernst, reproduced here with permission.

A Gelis wasp emerging from a wolf spider egg sac. Photo by C. Ernst, reproduced here with permission.

And the list goes on: Spiders are also prey to Acrocerid flies, many birds,  paper towels, and the vacuum cleaner.

Let's remember this - spiders are our friends, they seldom bite us, and although can make us fearful, they have their own fears, too.

 

Note: it's official - after a quiescent period over the summer, Expiscor is back! I look forward to posting regularly again.

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