12 October 2005

Beware the jabbervarch culicivora, my son

African Spider Craves Human Blood, Scientists Find
Although many spiders have relatively poor eyesight - those that use webs to trap prey have no need for acute vision, Nelson says - jumping spiders are an exception.

'Salticids are predators that actively search for prey and mates and typically do not build webs,' she said. 'They have evolved eyes that support high-acuity vision suited to their active lifestyle.'

Spiders don't have the skin-piercing mouth parts needed to feed directly on human blood, but the mosquito-munching jumping spider appears to have got around this. The strategy has other advantages as well, Nelson points out.

'Blood-feeding is a dangerous activity,' she said. 'Animals that are bitten have a swatting response, and often the insect is killed.'

By eating mosquitoes, the spider avoids the risk of being squashed by an unwilling blood donor.

The study team suspects a blood meal is also biologically important to E. culicivora.

They say spiders expend a lot of energy breaking solid food down into liquid by injecting their prey with digestive enzymes.

'Perhaps blood is a ready-made, nutrient-rich liquid meal,' Nelson said.

I plan a moral triumph by posting this without a single joke about the resemblance between E culicivora and the contemporary conservative. And they're probably not either slithy or brilling.


Stan said...

hmm. On cue, a contemporary Conservative emerges from his hide!

Hello Alan. Planning to cover this year's Pacific Island Forum? I think it starts around the 20th. I'd be interested in your thoughts, especially since I don't think anyone else would be interested enough. Being blogless these days, I thought I might camp out at your place during the event. Cheers...

Alan said...

I will be. The coverage in the traditional media will probably be about as effective as their coverage on the New Zealand election so someone has to do it. If you want to do a gust post, let me know.