RESEARCH: Social spiders help each other to catch their prey

There are many animal species that hunt in packs to kills their prey, especially when the prey is large. Examples of animals that hunt in packs include wolves, lions, dogs, hyenas, and ants.

Pack hunting is also called cooperative hunting because each individual animal in the pack cooperates with the rest of the pack for the same purpose. 

A new 2021 research study shows that some spider species also practice cooperative hunting to help each other to catch their prey. Researchers at the University of Toulouse in France observed two colonies of a social spider species called Anelosimus eximius. The researchers copied the actions of prey entering a spider web – they created vibrations in different parts of the webs – and filmed the responses of the spiders.

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East African Dwarf Spider

The East African Dwarf Spider (Microlinyphia aethiopia) is an arachnid in the Linyphiidae family of dwarf spiders. 

The East African Dwarf Spider has a dark-brown abdomen with a light-brown carapace (shell). The male has a more pointed abdomen than the female. It has eight brown legs covered with hairs. It has tooth-like pedipalps near its mouth. It has two rows of four eyes to total eight eyes. The back row of eyes is straight and the front row of eyes is slightly curved.

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Dwarf Spider

The Dwarf Spider (Erigone atra) is an arachnid in the Linyphiidae family of dwarf spiders. 

The Dwarf Spider is black or dark-brown. Its carapace (shell) is dark and its abdomen usually has a black marking. The male has a more pointed abdomen than the female. It has eight brown legs covered with hairs. It has tooth-like pedipalps near its mouth. It has two rows of four eyes to total eight eyes. The back row of eyes is straight and the front row of eyes is slightly curved.

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Pearleaf Blister Mite

The Pearleaf Blister Mite (Eriophyes pyri) is an insect in the Eriophyidae family of leaf mites. It is considered to be a pest in fruit orchards. It is a leaf gall. It is related to spiders.

The Pearleaf Blister Mite is tiny and whitish. It produces visible galls that look like yellow rice on the top surface of leaves. The galls are domed with openings. Initially, the galls are yellow-green, and then they turn brown.

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Buzzing Spider

The Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena accentuata) is an arachnid (eight-legged invertebrate) in the Anyphaenidae family of spiders.

The Buzzing Spider is light-brown to greyish-brown with darker markings on its abdomen. Its thorax is darker than its abdomen. It legs are darker near is body and become paler toward the tips. It has a pair of antennae. 

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Flat Badge Huntsman Spider

The Flat Badge Huntsman Spider (Neosparassus patellatus) is a large arachnid in the Sparassidae family of badge huntsman spiders. Sparassids are eight-eyed spiders.

The Flat Badge Huntsman Spider has a grey, thick, flat body with smooth furry hair. The female is lighter, often orange to pinkish brown. It has a distinctive shield, called a badge, with white spots on its underbelly. Its abdomen, called a carapace, is oval with a square front near its eyes. On its abdomen, it has a series of black dots. It has eight long legs. The first two pairs of legs are longer than the other legs.

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Vietnamese Cane Spider

The Vietnamese Cane Spider (Heteropoda venatoria) is an arachnid in the Sparassidae family of tropical huntsman spiders. It is also called the Vietnamese Giant Crab Spider. Sparassids are eight-eyed spiders.

The Vietnamese Cane Spider has a flat, brown body. Its body is very hairy, but its 8 legs only have hairy tips. The clypeus, the area in front of its eyes, is yellowish. The carapace, behind its eyes, has a wide tan-coloured band on the female and a cream-coloured band on the male. It has eight long, banded legs. 

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Madagascar Huntsman Spiders stitch leaves together with silk

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. 

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Bark Crab Spider

The Bark Crab Spider (Bassanianasp.) is a small arachnid in the Thomisidae family of crab spiders. 

The Bark Crab Spider is black. The male is darker than the female. The length of its eight legs are uneven. Its four strong front legs, used for grabbing, are longer than its four back legs. Its front legs have more hair. It moves sideways like a crab. The first two pairs of legs can rotate. It has eight eyes.

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Eurasian Running Crab Spider

The Eurasian Running Crab Spider (Philodromus dispar) is a small arachnid in the Araneidae family of orb weaver araneomorphic spiders. It is also known as the Philodromid Crab Spider. 

The male Eurasian Running Crab Spider is very different and more distinctive than the female. The male has a shiny, iridescent, black body with white edges and pale legs. The male has large palps – mouthparts. The female is pale greyish-white with pale mottled legs and a leaf-like mark on her abdomen. It is not a very hairy spider. It only has a few bristles, called setae. Of its eight legs, its second pair of legs is longer than its other legs.

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