Insects wooing mates risk becoming spider mealsMarch 30th, 2011 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS
London, March 30 (IANS) Insects wanting to attract a mate run the mortal risk of being being eaten alive by killer spiders.
Experts from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences found that predatory spiders can home in on leafhoppers and other insects by sensing their vibrations to attract a mate.
Predators are already known to exploit the sight, sound and smell communications of their prey - but this is the first time that scientists believe they have discovered that predators such as spiders can pick up these secretive vibrational signals and use them to find prey.
“Vibrational signalling is a widespread form of sexual communication between animals,” according to Meta Virant-Doberlet and William Symondson at Cardiff, who undertook the research, the journal Molecular Ecology reports.
“By observing this behaviour we have been able to see, for the first time, that spiders are able to exploit sexual vibrational communication signals as a mean of tracking down their prey,” they added, according to a Cardiff University statement.
The scientists made the discovery by observing the behaviour of one spider species, Enoplognatha ovate, a relative of the highly poisonous Black Widow spider.
When recordings of male leafhopper vibrational signals were played, spiders began homing in on the signal and searching for food.
Symondson and Virant-Doberlet add: “This is a very significant scientific advance, opening up a whole new area for scientific investigation. Vibrational signalling is widespread among invertebrates and it is highly likely that many predators have evolved to exploit it.”
-Indo-Asian News Service
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Tags: asian news, black widow, black widow spider, cardiff university, communication signals, ecology reports, indo, insects, invertebrates, leafhoppers, london march, mates, predators, predatory spiders, prey, scientific investigation, sexual communication, spider species, vibrational signals, vibrations