Madagascar Huntsman spiders stitch leaves together with silk to trap tree frogs.
Researchers in a vanilla plantation in north-east Madagascar in 2017 found an unsual Huntsman Spider while conducting wildlife surveys. While surveying birds, Dominic Martin at the University of Goettingen in Germany noticed a Huntsman Spider (Damastes sp.) eating a tree frog (Heterixalus andrakata).
His colleague, Thio Fulgence, at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar, who was surveying reptiles and amphibians in the plantations, noticed that the spider was sitting between two leaves that it had stitched together with its silk to form a type of envelope.
The two researchers took photos of the spider eating the frog (pictured), as they had never seen anything like this before. They found three more leaves sewn together with silk, with huntsman spiders waiting at the back of the leaf, although the team only observed one case of a spider eating a frog.
The researchers believe that these spiders may build the leaf traps specifically to catch nocturnal tree frogs, which typically like to hide between leaves, away from predators, such as birds.
“We think that this is a systematic trapping,” says Fulgence, adding that it is also possible that the spiders trap small geckos, which also hide between leaves.
Journal reference: Ecology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1002/ece3.7102
Photographer: Huntsman Spider feasting on a tree frog, Dominic Martin
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