Today’s Solutions: February 08, 2023

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, so the saying goes. As it turns out, this applies to humans and the natural world as well. Mosquitoes are the prime movers of malaria around the world, and scientists have worked hard to eliminate mosquitoes’ spread of this deadly disease. Yet, another species is also attacking mosquitoes and seems to have some success. 

A recent study from the University of Florida proved that a species of jumping spiders from Kenya much preferred preying on mosquitoes who recently fed on blood. 

Helpful hunters 

Lisa Taylor, an entomologist at the University of Florida and lead author of the study published in ScienceDirect, and her collaborators studied the peculiar hunting habits of an East African jumping spider called Evarcha culicivora. They noticed that these jumping spiders seemed to be tracking mosquitoes. 

“They’re such tiny animals, with an even tinier brain, and a sensory system that we don’t quite understand,” says Taylor. “My collaborators spent years watching these spiders in the field and noticed that they were feeding almost exclusively on mosquitoes. This isn’t something that’s typical of all spiders—to specialize in one type of prey.”

Not only that, but they also seemed to be targeting mosquitoes with red-colored bellies, an indication that the mosquito had recently fed and had a stomach full of blood. It seemed like the jumping spiders were leaping after these mosquitoes in particular. 

They tested this observation in Kenya, marking mosquitoes by feeding them red-dyed glucose water, which would still look like they had fed on blood, and other mosquitoes with gray-dyed water. The spiders still went after the red-dye-fed mosquitoes, eliminating the possibility that they were hunting by smelling the blood in mosquitoes. 

How might this influence future mosquito management?

According to Taylor, these findings could certainly have a longer-term influence on how to eradicate or manage disease-carrying mosquitoes in problem areas. In the short term, however, it is just another small but important find in spider research. 

“This is a localized example, but it’s a good study system to help us understand how animals can make decisions with really tiny brains and a completely different sensory system than ours,” Taylor says. “It reveals broader patterns in the natural world.”

Source Study: ScienceDirectBlood-red color as a prey choice cue for mosquito specialist predators – ScienceDirect

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Australia is the first nation to acknowledge psychedelics as medicine

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration surprised researchers by approving the psychedelic chemicals found in magic mushrooms and MDMA for use by patients with specific mental health issues, ...

Read More

The top 9 mistakes people make when trying to establish a healthy routine

If you can’t figure out why you struggle to maintain a healthy routine, no worries. We have a story from Groom+Style that lists the ...

Read More

These wind turbine walls let cities harness wind power beautifully

One of the major downfalls of harnessing wind energy is that large-scale wind farms require lots of space, away from urban areas, and wind ...

Read More

Google puts data privacy back into users hands

Due to various political and healthcare data breaches setting off alarm bells, the general public is slowly realizing that their data is at risk ...

Read More