Spiders. With over 45,000 different species found all over the world, these 8-legged arthropods have certainly crawled their way into the nightmares of many humans. When you think about it, it’s fascinating how much terror even the tiniest of these creatures (like the .011 in. long Samoan moss spider) can instill in humans.
Perhaps some of this fear might be alleviated if we recognize the importance of spiders to to recognize that spiders are to the ecosystem, both as predator and prey. They help keep insect pest populations down, and they also feed other animals higher up on the food chain.
What Animals Eat Spiders?
While the majority of spider species are actually harmless, this doesn’t really ease the fears of people experience Arachnaphobia (fear of spiders) which, according to Psy.com, can occur in 5 out of every 100 people. Still, perhaps they will find comfort in knowing that there are many natural predators willing to gobble up these 8-legged terrors. Some of the top spider predators include:
- Lizards: There are at least 100 species of lizards that include spiders in their diets. Included in this list are geckos and chameleons. Some lizards might avoid the more venomous spiders (like black widows) because the venom upsets their stomachs. There are species of lizards, like Alligator there are some species that have no fear of the toxins. Lizards have been used as a natural means of controlling overwhelming spider populations . For example, lizards introduced to some islands in the Bahamas eradicated an invasion of orb spiders in five years.
- Fish: Species of spiders that live on or near the water have to look out for fish. Some of the spiders that eat fish include: trout, archers, and mosquito fish. Of course, in this world predator often becomes prey. There are also fish-eating spiders that can feast on prey that much larger than themselves. Its a fish-eats-spider-eats-fish kind of world.
- Birds: Any insect eating bird will easily dine on spiders, except perhaps really large spiders. Blackbirds, bluebirds, sparrows, crows, and wrens can help keep any garden spider free (among other bird species). The European blue tit intentionally bring spiders back to their nests for their chicks, possibly because of an amino acid in spiders that improves intelligence and eyesight.
- Monkeys: It may surprise you to learn that several species of monkeys along with their primate cousins HUMANS have overcome their fear of spiders to include them in their diet. Of course, sometimes tiny spiders are more like accidental meals.
- Centipedes: Which is creepier, 8-legged arthropods or multi-legged arthropods? Well, one can be used to control the other. Centipedes use their claws to paralyze their prey, including spiders, and settle in for a juicy meal.
- Scorpions: In another battle between arthropods, scorpions use their pincers to capture and crush their prey, and their venom to paralyze it for a safe and tasty meal. This includes a spider shaped feast.
- Spiders: Some species of spiders dine on other spiders. They aren’t afraid of eating larger, more dangerous spiders, either. For example, daddy long leg spiders (which are basically harmless for humans) will gladly feast on hobo spiders (which are venomous but not harmful to humans) and black widows.
There are plenty of animals that help keep spider populations down, just as spiders help control other types of pests. It is really fascinating as you begin to understand how interconnected everything is. And of course, there is always more to learn. Read on for more spider predator facts.
What pets eat spiders?
If you are looking for a pet to keep the spider population down, your best options are lizards, frogs, and cats. Cats are natural hunters that will eat almost anything they capture, including insects of all types, and of course our eight-legged friends. Dogs probably prefer to play with spiders, and only eat them accidentally. However, eating the wrong spider (like a black widow or a brown recluse) can be dangerous for dogs.
What plant eats spiders?
Carnivorous plants will really digest anything that wanders into their trap, including spiders. Pitcher plants attract have deep pitcher-shaped leaves which can easily trap unsuspecting creatures, who fall in and can’t get out again. This includes spiders. It appears, however, that pitcher plants prefer certain kinds of spiders (sheet web-spiders and wolf spiders). Venus fly traps snap shut on any crawling insects, spiders included.
What fly eats spiders?
Of course, spiders eat flies trapped in their sticky webs, however there are also flies that eat spiders. Robber flies will go after the food trapped in a spider’s web, and will also go after the spider itself. They pick up the spider from the ground, fly away, and eat it. Yum. There are also several species of small-headed flies whose larvae enjoy a spidery feast. Basically, the larvae drills into a passing spider, and grows inside, eventually eating its way out.
What wasp eats spiders?
There are several types of wasps that intentionally include spiders in their diet. Tarantula Hawks, which are wasps in spite the name, hunt for tarantula in their burrows. They trick the tarantula into coming out by knocking on the nest, kind of like a friendly neighbor coming for a visit. Luckily, most neighbors don’t have a paralyzing sting like Tarantula Hawks, who then carry the rigid tarantula into their own burrow to feed the family. Tarantula Hawks are part of the family of spider wasps, all of which eat spiders (hence the name). They all sting, they all can paralyze their victims, and they all find ways to transport spiders to their own nests to feed their young. The mud dauber wasp store the corpse of the spider in a mud cell in the wasps nest where the larvae can access it for for food.