Today’s post, like many others before it, starts with an Argiope spider. Though they are quite interesting in their appearance, you’re likely to be quite bored of them by now, if you have been following this blog for any length of time. In fact, the photo just below is rather mediocre compared to what I usually share.
But wait. The Argiope is not the only thing seen in that picture, is it? No, there’s a second, smaller spider in the top right corner, messing around with a dead insect wrapped and kept as leftovers.
Turns out that the second spider is a Dewdrop spider, genus Argyrodes. And it’s up to no good. Take a look at the collage below.
Most orb-web spiders trap and kill prey when they find them, and they wrap them up in silk and tie them on their web to one side, pretty much like what you can see in these pictures. And the Dewdrop spiders steal them!
Dewdrop spiders build small webs quite close to those of larger spiders, such as this one. Often their web is in a plane parallelt to the larger spider’s, but set to one side. They also sneak in a couple of strands between the two webs for ease of access. And when they chance upon a morsel small enough for them to nick, voila. Now you see the silk ball, now you don’t. The Sting glowed blue when Sam rescued Frodo from Shelob, the Argyrodes just shines silver.
Kleptoparasitism is the technical word for it, parasitism by theft. It seems to be all the rage in the animal kingdom. The Arachnid world has dewdrop spiders, the birds have skuas, and we humans have pimps, child peddlers and other scum of the earth.
Viva la Evolución.