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Thread: Spider vs. Spider

  1. #1 Spider vs. Spider 
    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    Spiders. I hate the little buggers. So writing about them gives chills down the spine, but Iím curious about a little confrontation I witnessed between two very small spiders in my bathroom. Both approx. under 1 cm in diameter (legs spread!). One spidey was red, and the other was black...

    So basically as It happened, I accidently dropped a towel on my bathroom floor, which inadvertently caused a gust of air that blew the little black spider across the tiles, into a corner, straight into the home of the red spiders web.

    Immediately both spiders got into a heated tussle. Seconds later, the red spider does something freaky, yet cunning Ė it snips off one of the legs belonging to the black spider. Then snips off another, then another and another, until the black spider no longer has any legs, but wriggly stubs at the knees. Red spider crawls back into its corner looking a little taller ( and probably feeling smug), while the black spider wriggles in defeat, no longer a threat. Left to die.

    So anyway, Iím just curios if anyone has heard of this kind of defensive behaviour coming from the red spider? Is this is a well know spider manoeuvre against its own species? I thought they just go straight for the jugulars!


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor Daecon's Avatar
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    I'm surprised the red spider didn't just turn the black spider into lunch.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    That surprised me too. I would have expected the red spider to bite the black one, then coil it up right away. I noticed the black spider was gone the following day, so I assume the red one finished it off in some spidery fashion later on, then coiled it up. I guess snipping off the legs gets the evolutionary advantage in self-defence
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    I once saw a spider with half of its legs completely gone, along with both pedipalps (ie, the small "arms" to either side of its mouth used in eating). Massive, massive damage, and yet it survived at least temporarily and could walk.

    Spiders also lose legs ("autotomy") that are stung, although I don't know whether they shed or self-amputate them. Spider legs do regenerate.
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  6. #5  
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    Cockroaches are famous for being able to survive weeks without a head. I think the nervous and circulatory systems of insects and spiders are pretty similar, losing a leg or two isn't a big deal for these critters. But lose enough and the critter becomes a sitting duck for predators and has trouble feeding. And while they can regenerate legs, presumably the more they lose the bigger the strain on the metabolism to replace them, particularly if they are also having trouble feeding. Headless cockroaches, by the way, don't regenerate a lost head, they just live on stored food energy until they starve to death.
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  7. #6  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danhanegan View Post
    Cockroaches are famous for being able to survive weeks without a head. I think the nervous and circulatory systems of insects and spiders are pretty similar, losing a leg or two isn't a big deal for these critters. But lose enough and the critter becomes a sitting duck for predators and has trouble feeding. And while they can regenerate legs, presumably the more they lose the bigger the strain on the metabolism to replace them, particularly if they are also having trouble feeding. Headless cockroaches, by the way, don't regenerate a lost head, they just live on stored food energy until they starve to death.
    Only a few weeks? Some humans can go an entire lifetime without a head on their shoulders.
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  8. #7  
    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples View Post
    Spiders. I hate the little buggers. So writing about them gives chills down the spine, but Iím curious about a little confrontation I witnessed between two very small spiders in my bathroom. Both approx. under 1 cm in diameter (legs spread!). One spidey was red, and the other was black...

    So basically as It happened, I accidently dropped a towel on my bathroom floor, which inadvertently caused a gust of air that blew the little black spider across the tiles, into a corner, straight into the home of the red spiders web.

    Immediately both spiders got into a heated tussle. Seconds later, the red spider does something freaky, yet cunning Ė it snips off one of the legs belonging to the black spider. Then snips off another, then another and another, until the black spider no longer has any legs, but wriggly stubs at the knees. Red spider crawls back into its corner looking a little taller ( and probably feeling smug), while the black spider wriggles in defeat, no longer a threat. Left to die.

    So anyway, Iím just curios if anyone has heard of this kind of defensive behaviour coming from the red spider? Is this is a well know spider manoeuvre against its own species? I thought they just go straight for the jugulars!
    Given your feelings for spiders I'm surprised you didn't go for a twofer after the entertainment was over. I certainly wouldn't leave a live spider in my house. At the following link you can find all 5 seasons of Monster Bug Wars and many of them are spider vs spider. All are very good but I don't remember any that used the strategy you described.

    bug wars - Bing Videos
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  9. #8  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I don't know of a spider with chelicerae capable of removing another spider's legs. I've heard of ants that do it. Most spiders will just poison the invader and leave until it dies if they don't want to fight.
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  10. #9  
    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I don't know of a spider with chelicerae capable of removing another spider's legs. I've heard of ants that do it. Most spiders will just poison the invader and leave until it dies if they don't want to fight.
    That's what I'd be thinking, I wonder if there's any documentation that might show any species of spider that could do what the OP suggested he witnessed? Is it possible that some bug just looked like a spider but wasn't?
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  11. #10  
    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    I can only say I’m certain they were spiders. I assume they were not fully grown.

    From what I understand there are 400+ spider species in Ireland. So I’ll have to try another search using google images. The best I could currently describe the red one, would be to picture a baby black window. Like this pic
    http://citizenscientistsleague.com/w....25-cedMed.jpg

    The belly was more reddish than the whitish seen here. Thankfully we don’t have black widows in Ireland, but we do have “false black widows’. So could have been one of those, but I really don't know.

    The black one pretty much looked the same, but was black with no tint of red.
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  12. #11  
    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples View Post
    I can only say Iím certain they were spiders. I assume they were not fully grown.

    From what I understand there are 400+ spider species in Ireland. So Iíll have to try another search using google images. The best I could currently describe the red one, would be to picture a baby black window. Like this pic
    http://citizenscientistsleague.com/w....25-cedMed.jpg

    The belly was more reddish than the whitish seen here. Thankfully we donít have black widows in Ireland, but we do have ďfalse black widowsí. So could have been one of those, but I really don't know.

    The black one pretty much looked the same, but was black with no tint of red.
    I searched on "red spiders in Ireland" and maybe the link below will have the one you want.

    red spiders in ireland - Bing Images
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