Spiders Can Eat Fish Up to Twice Their Size, So That's One Nightmare Made
Fair warning: If you don't like spiders, then stop reading now. A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE Wednesday found that over two dozen species of spiders can catch and eat fish up to twice their size. As if that weren't nightmarish enough in and of itself, it turns out these poisonous eight-legged critters are pretty much everywhere — seriously, they're on every continent barring Antarctica. Shudder.
If you ignore the fact that you'll never look at a lake the same way again, there's actually a lot to admire (read:fear) about these semi-aquatic spiders. They can swim, they can dive, hell, they can even walk along the water's surface — and they're pretty sneaky, too. They'll often wait for a fish on the water's edge, and then attack it with their paralyzing poison (yah, paralyzing) and somehow drag it to dry land. The way they actually eat the fish? Oh, they just casually inject it with a type of digestive chemical that dissolves its insides into a mush, and then suck it out. Like a slurpy.
There are at least 24 species of semi-aquatic spiders from over five families, and they're nonchalantly sucking fish guts on lakes, ponds and rivers across the globe. (Make note: in North America, your typical fish-catching spider is of the Dolomedes triton species). And while they may be tiny — Dolomedes tritons tend to be less than half an inch long — they're a force to be reckoned with. Researchers have seen at least 30 species of fish being caught by the semi-aquatic spiders. Some of the fish have been 2 and a half inches long.
"Fish may represent a 'big-ticket item' in the nutritional budget of semi-aquatic spiders," zoologist Martin Nyffeler, who led the study, told Reuters. He added:
Fish meat is high-quality prey regarding protein content and caloric value. Feeding on fish may be particularly advantageous during the mating period when the elevated energy and protein requirements of gravid (pregnant) female spiders require increased food intake, or at times of limited availability of invertebrate prey.
Between these and the Chinese armored spiders, who needs horror movies?