Assassin bugs lure spiders by mimicking prey caught in webs

October 28th, 2010 - 5:32 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Oct 28 (ANI): Scientists from Macquarie University, Australia, have discovered that a species of insect lures spiders by mimicking prey caught in webs.

The team found that assassin bugs plucked the web’s silk threads that replicate the vibrations of a fly or other insect, causing the fooled spider to head towards the bug.

Once within reach, the bug slowly tapped the spider with its antennae before lunging and stabbing the lured arachnid with its sharp snout.

The team said the behaviour - known as aggressive mimicry - was one of two strategies employed by the bug (Stenolemus bituberus) to trap its prey.

The other involved “stalking” spiders, where the assassin bug slowly approaches the unsuspecting victim until within striking range.

The researchers, Drs Anne Wignall and Phil Taylor, explained that the bug exploited web-building spiders’ use of vibrations to detect and locate its prey.

“However, reliance on vibratory cues and predictable responses leaves web-building spiders vulnerable to predators that aggressively mimic prey stimuli to gain control over their behaviour,” the BBC quoted the authors as saying.

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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