Fish-eating spiders discovered in all parts of the world

Adult male of Ancylometes sp. (possibly Ancylometes rufus) caught characiform (Cyphocharax sp.) near Samona Lodge, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Ecuador Ed Germain, Sydney, Australia (Martin Nyffeler & Bradley Pusey (2014) Fish Predation by Semi-Aquatic Spiders: A Global Pattern. PLOS ONE

Although viewed by ecologists as the classical predators of insects, researchers have become increasingly aware that spiders are not exclusively insectivorous. Certain larger-sized species supplement their diet by occasionally catching small fish. This shows a new study by zoologist and spider expert, Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel, Switzerland and Bradley Pusey from the University of Western Australia. The researchers gathered and documented numerous incidents of spiders preying fish from all around the world.

Fish as a diet supplement

According to their systematic review, spiders from as many as five families have been observed preying on small fish in the wild and three more families contain species that catch fish under laboratory conditions. These so called semi-aquatic spiders typically dwell at the fringes of shallow freshwater streams, ponds or swamps.

These spiders, some of which are capable of swimming, diving and walking on the water surface, have powerful neurotoxins and enzymes that enable them to kill and digest fish that often exceed them in size and weight. “The finding of such a large diversity of spiders engaging in fish predation is novel. Our evidence suggests that fish might be an occasional prey item of substantial nutritional importance”, says Martin Nyffeler.

Based on this study, naturally occurring fish predation by spiders has been reported from all continents with the exception of Antarctica. Most incidents have been documented in North America, especially in the wetlands of Florida, where semi-aquatic spiders have often been witnessed catching and eating small freshwater fish such as mosquitofish. In order to catch its prey, the spider will typically anchor its hind legs to a stone or a plant, with its front legs resting on the surface of the water, ready to ambush. The fish will then be dragged to a dry place before the feeding process can begin which usually lasts several hours.

Original source
Martin Nyffeler & Bradley Pusey (2014) Fish Predation by Semi-Aquatic Spiders: A Global Pattern. PLOS ONE

Further information
PD Dr. Martin Nyffeler, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, phone: +41 61 702 07 03, email:

Media Contact

Olivia Poisson Universität Basel

Weitere Informationen:

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Biowissenschaften Chemie

Der innovations-report bietet im Bereich der "Life Sciences" Berichte und Artikel über Anwendungen und wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse der modernen Biologie, der Chemie und der Humanmedizin.

Unter anderem finden Sie Wissenswertes aus den Teilbereichen: Bakteriologie, Biochemie, Bionik, Bioinformatik, Biophysik, Biotechnologie, Genetik, Geobotanik, Humanbiologie, Meeresbiologie, Mikrobiologie, Molekularbiologie, Zellbiologie, Zoologie, Bioanorganische Chemie, Mikrochemie und Umweltchemie.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Nanowirbel mit besonderer Eigenschaft

In manchen magnetischen Materialien lassen sich wirbelförmige Nano-Strukturen erzeugen: sogenannte Skyrmionen. Forschende am PSI haben nun erstmals antiferromagnetische Skyrmionen erschaffen und nachgewiesen. Ihre Besonderheit: In ihnen sind entscheidende Bausteine gegenläufig…

Meeresspiegelanstieg: Stabilitäts-Check der Antarktis offenbart enorme Risiken

Je wärmer es wird, desto rascher verliert die Antarktis an Eis – und viel davon wohl für immer. Dies hat ein Team des Potsdam-Instituts für Klimafolgenforschung, der Columbia University und…

In Wäldern nicht aufräumen

Bitte nicht stören: Nach Waldbränden, Borkenkäferbefall oder anderen Schädigungen sollte in den betroffenen Wäldern nicht aufgeräumt werden. Das schreibt ein Forschungsteam in „Nature Communications“. Stürme, Brände, Borkenkäfer: Weltweit sind viele…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.