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BBC: Mosquito-eating spider likes smelly socks


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Mosquito-eating spider likes smelly socks

A spider that preys on the malaria-carrying mosquito Anopheles gambiae is attracted to the odour of sweaty socks, according to a study.


Scientists in the UK and Kenya used previously worn socks in an experiment to find out if the spider, like its prey, was attracted to human odours.

The jumping spider appears to have evolved an affinity for smelly human feet in order to help find its prey.

The team reports its findings in the journal Biology Letters.

They say that people might be able to "recruit" this East African jumping spider, Evarcha culicivora, in the battle against malaria by encouraging the arachnids to live in their homes.


The jumping spiders can kill 20 mosquitoes in one "feeding frenzy"

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  • 1 year later...

These "vampire" spiders feed on vertebrate blood via their mosquito prey:

'Vampire spiders' spot victims by antennae

"Vampire" jumping spiders from East Africa identify their mosquito victims by their antennae, research has revealed.

A team led by scientists from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand studied the "unique" arachnids.

They used model "Frankenstein mosquitoes" and 3D animation to investigate the spiders' diet.

Results showed that spiders could see minute differences in body and antennae appearance when choosing their prey.

The findings are published in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

"The thing that really amazed me is that I couldn't actually see the difference [in antennae] when I was looking at the screen", said Dr Ximena Nelson from the University of Canterbury.

Evarcha culicivora spiders live in Kenya and are part of the jumping spider family (Salticidae), which is best known for agile movement and incredible vision.

However, this "vampire spider" is unique because it feeds indirectly on vertebrate blood by catching mosquitoes (particularly Anopheles - a malaria-carrying mosquito) that have recently fed on blood.


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Well I need to figure out how to get some of these spiders... I work in Angola which does have a malaria problem about 12-16 weeks a year so these would come out handy.

Especially, the malaria medcine I take makes me feel "not right" so I tend to not take them anymore so these spiders would be great to have... hopefully after catching all those mosquitos... it doesnt jump on me for a feeding... haha

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But if this thing feeds on mosquitos, I would think it's gotta be so small as to not really bother most people, even those with arachnophobia.

tell me that when i wake up to pee @ 2:30 in the morning and I turn the bathroom light on and its sitting on the wall behind my toilet.

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These spiders I don't mind! They are TINY little buggers, look how large the mosquito looks in comparison.

Amen to that. ANYTHING that eats mosquitoes is OK by me

I'd like to have a leash for one of these little spiders. I'll give him a smelly sock to lay on if he can kill 20 mosquitoes in a sitting..


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They're actually very effective. The dunk releases bacteria that infect the larvae and cause them to starve to death before they have time to develop into mosquitoes. But then I guess the right to life crowd would classify this as infanticide so maybe it's not the best choice after all. :)

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