Monday, 19 October 2015

Mimetidae: Pirate spiders

This is a small, but fascinating spider family. It comprises just 4 species of the genus Ero, two of them common and widespread.  They are small spiders, about 5 mm long, with globular abdomens, which have two or four tubercles. They have annulated legs, the first pair endowed with a series of spines.

Spider eaters
The Mimetidae are specialists in eating web-building spiders. Ero does not build a proper hunting web, it is a nomadic species which wanders in search of webs. Once found, she may invade the web, and then pluck it with her front legs. The owner might come to investigate, as it would do if an insect had fallen in, but then Ero will quickly grab and bite one of the spiders legs. The venom is quickly acting and then Ero will feed on the spider. In occasions the web owner might be able to escape minus a leg

Stalked egg sacs
Female pirate spiders produce characteristic egg sacs, which are more noticeable than the spiders themselves. They have a long stalk and are covered on coarse, brown wavy silk, presumable for protection, as the female takes no care of the egg sac or the spiderlings themselves.

These two photos are the only ones I have possibly portraying a Ero cambridgei/furcaca female sitting on a flower in a bush, legs withdrawn.

1 comment:

George Pilkington said...

Now that would be a real coup of a video Africa!! Cheers, George