Navigation Links
Diet of elusive red widow spider revealed by MU biologist
Date:3/20/2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. Beetles: it's what's for breakfastat least for the red widow spider of Florida's "scrub" habitat, according to a study by University of Missouri biologist James Carrel. The study provides a first glimpse at the diet of this mysterious spider, revealing that it primarily preys upon species of scarab beetles common to the scrub habitat. Carrel's findings shed light on red widow spiders' restriction to the Florida scrub habitat and the need for habitat conservation efforts.

"The pine scrub habitat, found on sandy ridges in Central and Southeastern Florida, is one of the oldest in North America," said Carrel, Curators Professor Emeritus in the MU Division of Biological Sciences. "Many of the plants and animals found on these ridges, including the red widow spider, are restricted to these high, dry areas. Our research suggests that red widows have evolved to specialize on scarab beetles because they are reliable food sources."

Carrel said that red widow spiders are difficult to study due to habitat confinement and the hidden nature of their webs, which are built in palmetto shrubs. Red widows conceal their funnel-shaped retreats in unopened palmetto leaves, making them difficult to spot. The only clues to the spiders' presence, visible solely on foggy mornings during four months of the year, are the threads spun loosely between tips of palmetto frond.

Since 1987, Carrel has been monitoring populations of this spider at the Archbold Biological Station, which protects a 5,193-acre Florida scrub preserve near Lake Placid. Only twice in those 23 years in March 1989 and in May 2003 have enough webs been located to study the dietary habits of these elusive spiders. The scientists identified 43 species of insects among the 98 specimens collected. The study revealed that the primary prey of the spider, especially in early spring, are five species of scarab beetles endemic to the Florida scrub habitat.

"The scarab beetles, which often are larger and stronger than the spiders themselves, fly just above the tops of scrub vegetation," said Mark Deyrup, senior research biologist for the Archbold Biological Station, who co-authored the study. "Sometimes beetles hit the web strands between tips of palmetto fronds and tumble into the denser tangle of threads below, catching them in the red widows' webs."

Carrel has monitored red widow spider populations at the Station since 1987, but has found enough webs to study red widows' dietary habits only twice. During both time periods, Carrel worked alongside Deyrup to collect and identify prey from spiders' webs.

Carrel's study, entitled "Red widow spiders prey extensively on scarab beetles endemic in Florida scrub," appeared in the March issue of the Florida Entomologist. Funding for the study came in part from a grant from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jeff Sossamon
sossamonj@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. A urine test for a rare and elusive disease
2. Scripps Research Institute scientists describe elusive replication machinery of flu viruses
3. New inhibitors of elusive enzymes promise to be valuable scientific tools
4. Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers discover elusive gene that causes a form of blindness from birth
5. Infection biology: The elusive third factor
6. New screening technique yields elusive compounds to block immune-regulating enzyme
7. Computer simulations help explain why HIV cure remains elusive
8. Feast or fancy? Black widows shake for love
9. Reversal of the black widow myth
10. Are brown widows displacing black widow spiders around southern California homes?
11. Size, personality matter in how Kalahari social spiders perform tasks
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Diet of elusive red widow spider revealed by MU biologist
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 According to a ... Identity Authentication, Identity Analytics, Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication Type, Deployment ... the IAM Market is expected to grow from USD 14.30 Billion in ... Rate (CAGR) of 17.3%. ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... -- Forecasts by Product Type (EAC), Biometrics, ... (Transportation & Logistics, Government & Public Sector, Utilities / ... Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business Organisation (BFSI), Hospitality ... looking for a definitive report on the $27.9bn Access ... ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... , April 3, 2017  Data captured ... engineering platform, detected a statistically significant association ... prior to treatment and objective response of ... potential to predict whether cancer patients will ... treatment, as well as to improve both pre-infusion ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2017 , ... Biodex Medical ... and ambulation aid in one device. This assistive aid lifts patients safely from a ... harness and motorized lift mechanics. The Mobility Assist is the latest in a line ...
(Date:6/26/2017)... VIRGINIA (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2017 , ... ... today that Melissa Kirkegaard, the former Associate Director of Product Development R&D at ... biological and pharmaceutical products at both start-up and established biopharma companies, has joined ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Biova, LLC., the leader in water ... Board of Directors. Dr. Henig will bring a wealth of scientific experience in the ... the Chief Technical and Scientific Officer of four major global companies in the last ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... The Academy of Model ... University Aviation Association (UAA), the unifying voice for collegiate aviation education, are launching ... teamwork, competition, and success through a STEM-based education platform. , Much like the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: