Spiders have learned to pretend to be bird droppings to lure victims

As they say, if you want to live, be able to twirl. And sometimes you don’t need to twirl around, but disguise yourself, and in some cases you have to portray extremely unusual things.

To find out if a spider is really good at pretending to be bird droppings, scientists have conducted a whole study.

The Phrynarachne genus of sidewalk spiders uses an aggressive disguise, that is, it not only hides from predators, but also misleads its victims, pretending to be something harmless or useful. Specifically, Phrynarachne ceylonica pretends to be bird droppings that attract certain types of insects.

Until now, zoologists have not had reliable data on the effectiveness of this strategy. But now scientists from the University of Hubei Province (China), together with a colleague from New Zealand, have conducted a study to determine how effective spider camouflage is at luring prey. The work was published in the journal Current Zoology.

In the course of the study, experts placed ordinary side walk spiders, camouflaged spiders and, separately, bird droppings into the wild nature of the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The results showed that many species of insects are baited – some sporadically and others constantly, with real bird droppings and a camouflaged spider equally attracted. In addition, both droppings and predatory insects are of greater interest to spider prey than, for example, an ordinary leaf.

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