I’m sure you know that spiders are carnivores, but did you know that some spider don’t just have an appetite for meat, but for blood as well?
These spiders are East African Jumping Spiders. You probably have visions of vampires with their fangs, neck-biting, and proclivity for the night dancing in your head.
But these spiders don’t satisfy their blood craving in the traditional vampiric fashion. Their mouthparts aren’t equipped to suck the blood out of vertebrates like ourselves. So they get their blood from mosquitoes that have already done the work for them.
They don’t just take their blood and run, though. They eat the mosquito too, along with the blood it carries.
So, how do scientists know that spiders don’t just like the taste of mosquitos? Experiments have shown that these spiders prefer blood-filled female mosquitoes to male mosquitoes, which don’t eat blood. And if given the choice between female mosquitoes that have dined on blood to female mosquitoes forced to dine on sugar, a significant majority of the spiders chose the blood carriers again.
A Different Kind of Spider
That might not sound like the experiment’s conditions don’t line up with how the spiders live in the wild. Traditionally, most spiders pretty much eat whatever gets stuck in their webs. But East African Jumping Spiders are different.
One source describes them as, “stalking their food like cats.” They sneak up close to an insect they want to eat, and then they pounce.
Their ability to do this has made them famously picky.
If you want to learn more about spiders, you could read about how in the future your clothes might be made out of spider webs.
Sources And Further Reading:
- Owen, James. “African Spider Craves Human Blood, Scientists Find.” National Geographic News. October 11, 2005. Accessed May 1, 2018.
- Sohn, Emily. “A Spider’s Taste for Blood.” Science News For Students. October 13, 2005. Originally accessed for episode’s first airing on October 26, 2005. Re-accessed on May 1, 2018.
- “‘Vampire’ spiders use blood as perfume.” CBC News. October 30, 2009. Accessed May 1, 2018.
- Yong, Ed. “To study vampire spiders, build Frankenstein mosquitoes.” Discover Magazine: Not Exactly Rocket Science. June 7, 2012. Accessed May 1, 2018.