(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers have discovered for the first time traces of a hunting spider of the genus Damastes creating a trap for tree frogs from large leaves.
Many spiders create traps to catch their prey more easily. Now biologists have noticed for the first time how hunting spiders make traps for frogs, luring them into dark hiding places during hot times of the day.
Hunter spiders got this name because of their behavior. Most other spiders spin a web into which the prey falls, but hunter spiders catch prey without any nets, biting it and injecting poison. In a new study, researchers have discovered one hunting spider that appears to create traps for amphibians to catch them more easily.
Biologists were conducting research on creatures living in a certain part of Madagascar and accidentally stumbled upon a hunter spider in a tree, which was eating a tree frog. Interestingly, there was an unusual structure of leaves right next to the spider – a kind of trap. It was made of two leaves joined together at the back and edges with spider silk to form a kind of pocket.
As the researchers approached the spider, it dragged the dead frog into the pouch, trying to hide. Intrigued by their discovery, the researchers concluded that the spider created a structure of leaves in order to catch amphibians such as tree frogs.
When the researchers continued their observations the following season, they found three similar leaf structures in the forests, but without the spiders. However, the discovery of other similar structures has shown that this method of catching prey among hunting spiders is quite common. And logic dictated that frogs did not create them as shelters, since there were many other easily accessible types of natural shelters for them.
The authors noted that tree frogs are known to seek shelter during the hotter part of the day, and the dark pocket of leaves is the perfect place to hide from the scorching sun. Scientists acknowledge that more research is required to confirm their theory, but the authors note that their assumptions are not far-fetched – many species of spiders make traps for their victims.
Scientific article published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
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