Bug Blog

Smart Spiders Spin Decoy Spiders Into Their Webs

Smart Spiders Spin Decoy Spiders Into Their Webs

Spiders spend quite a bit of time and energy into building their webs. These webs are their home, ticket to a meal, and protection from predators all in one, so a certain level of dedication and care taken when building a web makes sense. What scientists hadn’t expected to discover was spiders that actually spun decoys of themselves into their webs. That’s going a little above and beyond what we thought they were smart enough to do. But, man, did those spiders show them.

During an expedition through the Peruvian Amazon scientists first discovered these strange webs when one spotted what they thought was simply a dead spider caught in a web. What appeared to be a fungus-covered spider corpse surprised the scientists when it suddenly started twitching. It was then that they noticed a second smaller spider sitting roughly an inch above the fake spider was shaking the web slightly. The scientists were amazed to say the least.

The spider turned out to be one of the genus Cyclosa spiders, part of the species of jumping spiders. Scientists have found other spiders that also build decoys, but never ones so anatomically precise. The spider builds its elaborate decoy out of bits of leaves, debris, and parts of dead prey insects they have previously caught. The doppelganger is an amazingly precise copy, including a head and abdomen, as well as numerous spidery legs. The scientists believe that the spider builds this decoy spider to serve as a line of defense against predators, designed to confuse the predator into believing it is the actual spider prey or possibly distract them from spotting the real spider. Since this discovery more of these decoy-making spiders have been discovered, as well as other spiders of the Cyclosa genus that build other elaborate defense mechanisms.

It’s pretty genius. Who wouldn’t want a replica of themselves they could shove in front of others whenever they are in trouble or danger? Think of all the possibilities…

Have you ever spotted a spider web with elaborate shapes or figures spun into them? Did you find out what type of spider made it, and what was it?